Flanked by taxi drivers and managers

Ride-sharing company spooks taxi firms

Transportation Minister Todd Stone wants all drivers licenced, NDP's John Horgan calling for fines up to $20,000 aimed at Uber

The potential Halloween arrival of a smartphone-based ride service has established taxi companies spooked, and B.C. politicians warning about the consequences for passenger safety and the viability of local businesses.

Ride sharing businesses such as Uber are welcome in B.C. as long as they follow the same rules as taxi and limousine companies, including a chauffeur driver’s licence, inspection and taxi licensing required by provincial law, Transportation Minister Todd Stone says.

Stone said Uber tried to operate in B.C. in 2012 but didn’t acquire licenses and was shut down by a cease-and-desist order from the ministry’s Passenger Transportation Branch, which regulates taxis. He called a news conference after reports that Uber was restarting operations in Vancouver, where customers frequently complain they can’t get a taxi on busy weekend nights.

Stone said anyone caught regularly providing rides for money without a taxi licence faces a fine up to $1,000. If they are in an accident, their passengers are covered by third-party liability insurance, but ICBC warns that the driver or vehicle owner takes the insurance risk.

A driver in an accident while working for Uber would likely be found in breach of ICBC insurance terms, and could be required to repay claims made against the driver as well as for the driver’s own injuries and vehicle damage, said ICBC spokesman Adam Grossman.

NDP leader John Horgan called his own news conference at the legislature, flanked by representatives of Victoria cab companies. Horgan is introducing a private members’ bill next week that calls for fines to be raised as high as $20,000.

Sean Convy, general manager of Victoria Taxi, said there are multiple cases of personal injury lawsuits against Uber, which takes revenues from taxi companies but whose drivers don’t meet the same regulations.

“We pay on average $12-15,000 per vehicle a year to be safe on the roads,” Convy said. “That’s an assurance that the passengers jumping into our vehicles can give to themselves when they ride with us.”

Uber invites private vehicle owners to sign up and takes a 20 per cent share of fares they collect. Customers download a smartphone app that identifies where and when they want a ride and pay the fare through the Uber network.

 

Just Posted

Algae bloom at Elk Lake prompts CRD advisory notice

Reappearance of blue-green algae lethal to dogs a constant concern for water quality

B.C. historian helped Viola Desmond make it on the $10 bill

Merna Forster of Oak Bay petitioned for years for a Canadian woman to be honoured on currency

Third rink needed immediately at Pearkes, say users

Only four ice pads for Saanich, Victoria groups

City of Victoria looks for emergency shelter options amidst bed shortage

My Place considered for tier-2 shelter during harsh weather

Vikes ready for Queen’s in Game 1 of national men’s rugby championship

From mid-terms to national championships, it’s a rugby life

VIDEO: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Good Food Summit plants seeds for food security

The Good Food Summit runs Nov. 22 and 23

POLL: Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?

The Christmas lights are twinkling and holiday music is playing in local… Continue reading

Trial: Witness describes encounter with accused murderer while tending to fatally injured Descoteau

Wright said he was working in his yard when he heard a woman screaming.

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

Most Read