(File Photo)

A recent report released by BC’s Passenger Transportation Board confirms that there is a tangible “public need” for ridesharing services in the province.

Currently, the organization says that issues within the province’s taxi industry, like service availability, quality, consumer choice, and price could be alleviated through the introduction of ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft.

See also: NDP introduces legislation that will allow ride-sharing in BC by fall 2019

Research conducted by the organization found that taxi service availability was the largest issue faced by BC residents, with extended wait times during peak periods and an oversupply of availability during non-peak periods.

“At the heart of consumer and business concerns over BC taxi service is supply,” said Dr. Dan Hara in an earlier transportation report, Modernizing Taxi Regulations, which this newest research references.

“Nonindustry stakeholders stated clearly that they want more and better vehicle-for-hire
service. Smaller communities and First Nations want their communities better served,
especially where present service is spotty or non-existent. Large urban communities
experience shortages during peak hours, especially on week-end nights or during
special events.”

According to the Transportation Board, there are not enough cabs to meet demand during certain time periods, like after special events, when cruise ships arrive, when bars close on weekends, and when flights land at airports.

“While the Board has undertaken some measures to address the undersupply of taxis, such
as licensing part-time peak period taxis in Vancouver, the shortage of taxis persists at peak
periods,” reads the report.

“…In summary, there is compelling evidence that taxi service cannot meet peak period public need for vehicles-for-hire.”

Legislative delays

During the last provincial election, the NDP government promised to introduce ridesharing by 2017.

In July 2018, one year after the ride hailing service was supposed to appear, the provincial government delayed its introduction to “fall 2019”.

See also: B.C. will not be getting rideshare services until 2019

In November 2018, the province proposed new ridesharing legislation that would allow businesses like Uber and Lyft to apply to the Passenger Transportation Board to operate in BC by 2019.

The applications must include data and evidence that demonstrates the applicant is capable, the public has need of their service, and that they would contribute to the community and provincial economy.

According to the province, one of the main focuses of the new legislation was safety.

Unlike some other provinces, BC will require ride sharing drivers to possess a class 4 drivers license, which is stricter than a general class 5 license and includes a background check, medical exam, vehicle inspection, and more.

BC’s class 4 requirement matches the policies of other provinces, like Alberta, Quebec, and Nova Scotia, but differs from others, like Ontario, which only requires a general class 5 equivalent license.

Currently, taxi drivers in BC must have a class 4 license.

An exact start date for legal ridesharing in BC has not yet been announced.