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

Famed Syrian artist displays paintings created while living in refugee camps

Farid Abdulbaki’s ‘Between Two Worlds’ exhibit will be displayed May 24-26 in Victoria

Mighty Garage Sale offers boost to Metchosin groups

Metchosin Community Association holds annual sale on May 25 and 26

Mad Hatter’s Ball offers laughs in support of Boys and Girls Club

Annual fundraising event features improv performances at McPherson Playhouse May 24

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

SidFest 7 ready to rock the Mary Winspear Centre

The Bankes Brothers and Madrona Drive headlining May 24 concert

VIDEO: Horseshoe pitching association appeals to Greater Victora youngsters

Youth horseshoe pitching club offers fun for all ages, says GVHPA

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

Most Read