Push to get ride-hailing services approved in BC continues


VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – It’s too late for stranded New Year’s Eve revellers, but an Uber executive is hoping public consultations in Vancouver will soon lead to ride-hailing services getting the go ahead from the NDP government.

Monday’s meeting by an all-party committee, appointed in November, comes more than a week after would-be customers flooded social media with complaints about holiday taxi shortages.

Uber’s public policy manager for western Canada, Michael van Hemmen, is slated to make a presentation at 2:00 p.m. on Monday.

“Every day, we get a day closer. We win one more vote. We win one more kind of supporter and advocate…. So, we’re hoping to outline the benefits of ride-sharing for British Columbians and for Metro Vancouver in particular and then, also to lay out the regulatory structure that’s been adopted all across Canada and across North America and around the world that would enable companies like Uber to help be part of the transportation solution for BC.”

Van Hemmen, who’s based in Vancouver, insists demand for Uber is strong.

“If you’re looking at public polling, you know, well over 70 per cent of the general public is saying we want this. Not just want this, but we want it now. We’ve had over 250,000 BC phone numbers associated with app downloads. Well over a quarter million tourists who come to Metro Vancouver who open the apps looking for a ride, whether at the airport or at a cruise ship terminal or downtown after they’ve had a night out and looking to get back to their hotel.”

He adds all the complaints flooding social media on New Year’s Eve prove Uber is long overdue in Metro Vancouver.

“Definitely, our thoughts go out to the people who’ve been trying to get a ride and haven’t been able to and also, even those who aren’t looking so much for a taxi, but who are looking to find an alternative to driving themselves around. Hopefully, working through this process, we’ll be able to convince the provincial government to keep working on that commitment that they made.”

Van Hemmen says Monday’s meeting in Vancouver will also be streamed live online. MLAs from the NDP, Liberals and Green Party on the committee plan to engage with expert witnesses, debate ride-hailing and produce a report by February 15th.

The BC NDP had previously committed to bringing ride-hailing to the province by the end of 2017, but the government went back on the pledge, instead announcing a review.

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