Taxi association seeks to curb ride-hailing in B.C.

VANCOUVER — Uber and Lyft could be off the road as soon as next Tuesday if the Supreme Court of B.C. agrees to issue an injunction in favour of the Vancouver Taxi Association.

Association lawyer Peter Gall said the court would be asked on Feb. 4 to issue an injunction against the Passenger Transportation Board’s ride-hailing rules, while the court reviews a legal petition filed by the association on Monday.

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Gall said the association believed the regulatory board has given ride-hail companies an advantage over taxi companies by — among other things — not imposing any fleet-size restrictions.

He said the board is not allowed to issue any licence unless “it promotes sound economic conditions.”

“The Passenger Transportation Board has to determine in advance what the impact will be on issuing licences on different terms than taxis,” Gall said. “Taxis are saying we are restricted as to numbers, we are restricted as to price.”

In August 2018, the board set out conditions under which ride-hailing could operate, then asked ride-hailing businesses to apply for permission to operate. Under those rules, there can be an unlimited number of ride-hailing cars and ride-hailing operators will be able to charge what the market will bear, but with a minimum price.

Ride-hailing was launched in Metro Vancouver on Friday, but the City of Surrey is threatening to fine ride-hailing companies that try to operate there.

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum said ride-hailing should not be rolled out while there are legal cases in play. However, he said the city would not challenge ride-hailing in court.

McCallum told reporters that bylaw officers hailed rides through the Uber app and gave 18 warning notices to drivers on the weekend because the company does not have a business licence. Uber, the company, was issued two $500 tickets — one for each day.

He said that the grace period is over and drivers will be fined if they are caught picking up passengers in Surrey. Daily fines will also continue to be levied against Uber.

McCallum said that he supports ride-hailing, but it’s a service he doesn’t want in Surrey until there is parity between the rules governing ride-hailing and taxi companies.

“Ride-hailing, in a regulated industry, has a very unfair advantage. Government has a role to play and I would argue has a responsibility to ensure there is fair competition between the taxi service industry and the ride-hailing components,” McCallum told reporters.

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