Vancouver Taxi Association launches judicial review over PTB's ridesharing rules

The Vancouver Taxi Association has filed a judicial review against the Passenger Transportation Board’s (PTB) decision to have no caps for ridesharing vehicles allowed on B.C. roads.

Calling the decision “unfair,” spokesperson Carolyn Bauer said the association filed the paperwork Wednesday afternoon.

“We want our day in court,” Bauer said. “We thought the procedure we were going through the last year-and-a-half was excellent. We thought we were going to accomplish things and that is so untrue.”

In the court filing, the association argues the PTB has provided an unfair advantage for the new ridesharing industry. Bauer says taxi companies have been required by the board to operate with limited vehicles in a heavy regulated environment.

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The PTB put forward regulations last month ensuring ridesharing companies in B.C. will not face restrictions on fleet sizes, will not have a cap price and can operate in much larger regional boundaries than taxi companies can.

Although there will be no maximum price, the minimum ridesharing rate will be the same as the flag rate for a taxi in Metro Vancouver, roughly $3.25-$3.95.

“Ridesharing vehicles have been given predatory pricing. They will price us out of the market place. We will not be able to compete,” Bauer said.

B.C. government raises concerns to Passenger Transportation Board over ridesharing vehicle caps

The association is also raising concerns about insurance rates. According to Bauer, ridesharing companies will pay 44 per cent less than taxi companies will for insurance.

“No one I know gets a 44 per cent increase on year one and two when they start driving. This is unfair,” Bauer said.

Last week, representatives from both the Vancouver Taxi Association and the BC Taxi Association met with officials from the B.C. premier’s office and the Ministry of Transportation.

Bauer says she raised concerns over not having a proper hearing around the regulations, although she says taxi companies were involved in meetings along the way.

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Taxi companies also want to see the information that ridesharing companies presented to government.

One of the largest concerns is the difference in vehicle registration fees for taxi companies compared to ridesharing companies.

“We are paying $100 per vehicle, we just paid $35,000 a few days ago. They (ridesharing companies) will pay $5,000. There are many inequalities,” Yellow Cab president Kulwant Sihota said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Transportation Minister Claire Trevena sent a letter to the PTB about “widespread concerns related to the introduction of ride-hailing services.”

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Trevena wrote she is concerned about no limits on ridesharing fleet sizes and the potential impact on Metro Vancouver traffic.

“This letter is intended to show support for the consideration of these concerns and should not be taken as a general policy directive,” Trevena writes.

“I appreciate that in making the policy decisions, you stated that while there are no limits on fleet size at this point, the board will monitor TNS (Transportation Network Services) performance data and may review fleet sizes when data is available.”

Trevena also writes in the letter to PTB board chair Catharine Read that the province has heard from Metro Vancouver mayors worried about too many ridesharing vehicles on the road.

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“The issue of congestion is a concern our government shares, as we work to improve transportation for people in our province and reduce GHGs (greenhouse gases),” Trevena writes.

“I trust that the impact of increased congestion will be monitored closely by the Board and will factor heavily into future decisions around fleet size limits.”

Ridesharing advocacy group Ridesharing Now for BC says it is disappointed with the Vancouver Taxi Associations ‘attempting to block reliable transportation options for British Columbians’. The organization points to an all party committee’s working calling for no caps on ridesharing vehicles as part of recommendations put forward as part of the consultation process before the regulations were announced.

“We hope the Passenger Transportation Board is able to move forward with reviewing ridesharing applications as soon as possible to bring new transportation options to B.C.,” a statement from the group reads.

“This interference in an independent, data-driven process, which is already complete, by a small number of taxi owners threatens the autonomy of our public institutions and discounts the work of experts like Translink, Dan Harra, and the Competition Bureau, who all have testified against caps for ridesharing companies.”

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