Surrey Board of Trade Responds Positively to Province Introducing Ride-Hailing Legislation

By November 19, 2018News, Vanessa Ybarra

(News Release from Surrey Board of Trade)

The Surrey Board of Trade was pleased with today’s approval by the BC Government on the Passenger Transportation Amendment Act that will allow app-based ride-hailing industries in all B.C. communities.

The bill proposes amendments to eight statutes: Passenger Transportation Act, Insurance Vehicle Act, Insurance Corporation Act, Motor Vehicle Act, Commercial Transport Act, Local Government Act, Community Charter, the Vancouver Charter

“Ride-hailing services will allow for a reliable source of transportation as current transportation systems in place are inadequate especially in cities like Surrey,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade

“The Surrey Board of Trade wants to have ride-hailing services operational now instead of waiting until the Fall 2019. Why do we need to wait so long?”

 The Surrey Board of Trade notes that in today’s legislation, local governments will retain authority over business licences, street and traffic bylaws; for example, setting vehicle type requirements or taxi stand locations.

“The Surrey Board of Trade looks to the City of Surrey for leadership in reducing red tape to ensure the ride-hailing industry along with the taxi industry thrives in Surrey,” said Huberman.

The legislation also focused on consumer safety and enforcement, streamlining license applications for taxi drivers, supply and boundaries for taxis, and other passenger-directed vehicles; and, working with ICBC to enable a modern insurance product.

The Surrey Board of Trade is an active member of the Ridesharing Now for BC Coalition. The Surrey Board of Trade along with the coalition, have focused on five key areas to bring ride-hailing to BC:

  • No caps
  • Regular licensing (instead of professional)
  • Usage-based insurance
  • No price controls
  • No geographic restrictions

“What the Lower Mainland needs is services such as Uber and Lyft brought in without further delay,” said Anita Huberman, CEO Surrey Board of Trade. “Ride-hailing is available in hundreds of cities around the world, providing transportation options and flexible income opportunities for those wanting to drive. The Surrey Board of Trade understands that regulations are required to provide the needed support for innovative transportation options and reassure the public that the service is safe.”

The legislation is a step in the right direction to innovate transportation in BC.

Timeline:

October 2017: The Province commits to comprehensive consultation with the existing industry – hires Dan Hara of Hara and Associates to engage with stakeholders industry

February 2018: All-party standing committee delivers report on ridesharing to the legislature.

July 2018: Government announces it is adopting key recommendations brought forward by Hara on modernizing the taxi industry and improving marketplace conditions for ride-hailing companies to enter the market.

November 2018: Government introduces legislative changes that will open the door for ride-hailing companies to enter the market by fall 2019.

Passenger Transportation Amendment Act:

The purpose of the Passenger Transportation Amendment Act is to modernize the legislative framework for passenger-directed vehicles (vehicles for hire, such as taxis) and prepare for the entry of app-based ride-hailing services.

The bill proposes amendments to eight statutes: Passenger Transportation Act, Insurance Vehicle Act, Insurance Corporation Act, Motor Vehicle Act, Commercial Transport Act, Local Government Act, Community Charter, the Vancouver Charter.

Overview of the Bill:

  1. Expanding the authority of the Passenger Transportation Board

The Passenger Transportation Board, an independent tribunal, will expand its role in receiving applications and setting out terms and conditions of licences, including taxis, ride-hailing, and passenger-directed vehicles.

The board will have authority to determine the rates charged to passengers, as well as the supply and operating area of vehicles operating under the authority of a licence authorizing transportation network services.

  1. Changes to local government

Proposed amendments to local government legislation will restrict authority of municipal governments to limit supply or operating areas of passenger-directed vehicles that the board has approved.

Local governments will still set vehicle type, taxi stand locations and local business-licence requirements.

  1. Accessibility

To further support accessible taxi service, the proposed legislation enables a new per-trip fee to cover a portion of costs to fund accessible taxis, as well as administrative costs of the Passenger Transportation Act. The existing industry would pay current fees for a fixed period before transitioning over to a new fee structure.

  1. Legislative committee to be appointed

This bill proposes the appointment of a special committee to review and make recommendations on the effectiveness of the changes, impacts of passenger-directed vehicles on public transportation, traffic congestion and the environment to ensure the Province has a model that works for British Columbians.

  1. Record-check requirements

All drivers of passenger-directed vehicles will be required to meet a provincial standard to be set by regulation for criminal and driver record checks by eliminating the need for taxi and future drivers to obtain a municipal chauffeur permit in each municipality.

  1. Stricter penalties

The bill proposes increases to administrative penalties for non-compliance of licence holders, as well as increases to the maximum fine amounts for offences, particularly for corporations that contravene the act.

The proposal is for the registrar to have authority under the act to levy administrative penalties up to $50,000 against licensees who do not comply with the act, the regulations or the terms and conditions of their licences. At the extreme end of non-compliance, the registrar has authority to suspend or cancel a licence.

Substantial increases are proposed for those convicted of an offence under the act. For example, for corporations who operate without a licence, the maximum fine amount for a conviction is proposed to be $100,000, with each day where a contravention occurs potentially treated as a separate offence and subject to another maximum fine amount of $100,000.

  1. Insurance

Amendments are proposed to the Insurance Vehicle Act and the Insurance Corporation Act to ensure ICBC can develop new and innovative insurance products in time for fall 2019.

  1. Per-trip fees

The legislation includes provisions that can broaden the existing authority to establish fees, including those related to a per-trip fee. A per-trip fee for new entrants to the industry can help sustain an adequate supply of accessible taxis once the new legislation comes into force.

  1. Data collection

The new legislation includes provisions for the board to gather information and data collection to assist in making more evidence-based decision making. For example, the board will have access to information pertaining to trip times, pickup locations, wait-times and type of trip (accessible or non-accessible vehicle).

The Hara Report and the Select Standing Committee on Crown Corporations emphasized the importance of information and data to help inform decision-making.

Summary of Taxi Modernization Recommendations – as announced in Phase 1:

Increasing taxi fleets –
The board implemented a streamlined process that gives taxi licensees an opportunity to apply to expand their fleets by up to 15%. The deadline for applying is closed. Of the applications received, approximately 445 taxis have been requested.

Enable taxi-rate competitiveness –
The Passenger Transportation Board is giving industry the flexibility to lower metered taxi fares in off-peak hours for app-hailed trips. The implementation date will be September 2019.

Improve taxi availability at shift change – 
The board is allowing taxi licensees to increase their fleet size to operate single-shift cars.

These recommendations for Passenger Transportation Board action are outlined in the report published July 2018, Modernizing Taxi Regulation, by Hara and Associates: https://www.ptboard.bc.ca/documents/ia_results-of-Board-taxi-consultations.pdf