Taxi companies ask B.C. court to toss out rules governing Uber, Lyft operations

Taxi companies claim the rules give an unfair advantage to ride-hailing services

Several B.C. taxi companies asked the province’s Supreme Court to toss out rules created by the Passenger Transportation Board regarding the introduction of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft.

The request comes after B.C. Premier John Horgan sent a letter to the Vancouver Taxi Association promising support for taxi drivers following the introduction of ride-hailing. Horgan emphasized support in specific areas, such as around the transportation board’s unlimited fleet size policy.

On August 19th, the board set out the conditions under which ride-hailing services could operate within B.C. Conditions included zones where they could operate, a requirement that drivers need a Class 4 professional licence and that there would be no limits on fleet numbers or upper limit on how much companies could charge. Prior to setting the conditions, the board consulted with Vancouver taxi companies, the Vancouver Port Authority, Vancouver Airport Authority, Uber and Lyft.

While the board is expected to review the fleet-size decision in the future, Horgan wrote in the letter, according to the Vancouver Sun, that the government wanted the review to occur “in a timely way so the taxi sector does not experience serious economic dislocation before a supply or cap decision occurs.”

Despite this, taxi drivers took matters into their own hands and argued in court that the rules created by the board to govern ride-hailing should be thrown out. Vancouver lawyer Peter Gall, who represents Yellow Cabs, Black Top Cabs, Maclure’s Cabs, Vancouver Taxi, Richmond Cabs, Bonny’s Taxi, Burnaby Taxi and Queen City Taxi, is leading the charge.

Gall told the Vancouver Sun that he believes the board doesn’t have the power to create operating polices for ride-hailing services before it receives applications. If the board did have that power, Gall says it would have to consult with affected taxi companies. Finally, he’s also challenging whether the board has the power to have two sets of rules for passenger transport providers. The board has 21 days to respond to the court case.

Gall also told the Vancouver Sun that the taxi companies accept that ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are coming, but they believe the rules have given an unfair advantage to those services.

The board asked ride-hailing businesses to apply to the Ministry of Transportation’s passenger transportation branch for the right to operate. Later this month, the branch will forward applications to the board, which will have the final say. Uber has already applied.

Source: Vancouver Sun