British Columbians have waited for ride hailing for a long time. The pace of change in our province is ridiculously slow on this issue.
There are certainly issues about security that need to be addressed but these services have been hijacked by political wrangling rather than good public policy.
This is not the first time that a new economic model has changed an old one. And, it is not up to government to pick winners and losers.
So, I asked Hon. Claire Travena, Minister of Transportation about the certainty of the coming industry and the timeline for when British Columbians will be able to access ride-hailing services.
Ride-hailing services are popular around the world because they are a flexible, accessible…
Members, we shall hear the question.
…and affordable transportation option. As members in this chamber know, British Columbians have been waiting for years for these services to be allowed to operate in our province.
New technology has always challenged government and society to adapt. It’s not government’s job to pick winners and losers as technology empowers new business models and fundamentally challenges old ones. Instead, government’s focus should be on protecting public safety and the broader public interest by setting a fair regulatory environment.
I think the most charitable description for most people’s reaction to the government’s ride-hailing legislation is uncertainty — uncertainty about whether this legislation is capable of really seeing ride-sharing operate in B.C.
Interestingly, despite vocal opposition from the taxi industry previously, we’ve heard almost nothing from them on this legislation. My question is for the Minister of Transportation. How does the minister respond to stakeholders and the public who are uncertain about the approach this government has taken and who are concerned that government has already picked its winner?
Hon. C. Trevena:
I’d like to thank the member for his question. What is important is that we are meeting people’s transportations needs. We’re meeting them with safety — as the member said, safety is the foundation — as well as looking at good public policy.
We are bringing in ride-hailing. We’re trying to make it right for B.C., and we’re working collaboratively to make sure that happens. So I would also like to thank the third party for their work on this, and their collaborative nature. They have been willing to talk about this.
We are using a customer-demand-driven approach, based on data. We’re going to be reducing jurisdictional overlap. We’ve also been able to learn from other jurisdictions on what works and what doesn’t work well. Shauna Brail, a ride-hailing expert from the University of Toronto said: “B.C. skipped right over ride-hailing 1.0, and they’re at ride-hailing 2.0.”
Saanich North and the Islands on a supplemental.
People are rightly concerned that the timelines, again, are shifting. Last year, government committed that by 2019, ride-hailing companies would be able to apply for operation in B.C. That was cast earlier this week when we started hearing about ride-hailing coming to B.C. in 2020.
British Columbians have put up with government’s games-playing on this issue for far too long. The last government notoriously ragged the puck on this issue. The B.C. Green caucus has submitted legislation three times that could have been debated. That was never done. It was ignored. Instead, we got a too-little-too-late, desperate election ploy from the former minister. The fact that B.C. does not have ride-hailing services showcases a lack of political will and a failure in our political system.
My question is to the Minister of Transportation. Will the minister recommit that this will be the last holiday season that British Columbians will not have access to ride-hailing services?
Hon. C. Trevena:
For years — years — people have been asking for new, convenient and safe options to get around. We do know that ride-hailing companies approached the government back in 2012.
I think everybody can agree that it’s unacceptable if you’re waiting for hours to get a ride home, whether you’ve been to a bar or you’re to hospital or waiting at the airport. We know that for many people new services can’t come soon enough, which is why we have moved…. The previous government had five years; we’ve done more in a year than the former government did done in five.
We have been very clear that this legislation will bring ride-hailing companies to the market in 2019, offering new services to people. So we reconfirm: 2019. We are on track to have companies apply to the Passenger Transportation Board. So we have a single regulatory approach.
Given the interest among all three parties…. I know that the third party, the opposition, are very eager to see ride-hailing in B.C. I’m anticipating unanimous support for the bill that is on the floor, and I look forward to seeing ride-hailing in B.C. in 2019.