Introduction of Rideshare Companies Such As Uber in Vancouver, BC
In the period between May and November 2012, residents of Vancouver were treated to a special taxi experience by Uber. For the first time, the Vancouver residents got a taste of ride-sharing during these five months. However, their joy was short-lived because the company that had brought this service to Vancouver (Uber), halted its operations citing conflicts with authorities about ride prices. Since then, there has been a heated debate about the introduction of rideshare cab services in the wider province of British Columbia that also covers Vancouver. The main areas of contention being customer safety and unfair competition. Rideshare companies should be authorized to operate in Vancouver, BC, with a unique set of legislation because this service comes with many benefits including making transport more affordable and accessible for city residents.+
Rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft will make transport for residents of Vancouver, B.C more affordable and accessible. According to Hampel (2016), the transport situation in Vancouver is desperate. The streets in Metro Vancouver are congested, and transit is crowded. Infrastructures including roads and metro train systems are currently under strain, and this puts the entire economy in jeopardy. Vancouver has the lowest per capita ratio of people to cabs in Canada with its more than 2.5 million residents scrambling for only 1,500 authorized taxis (Hampel, 2016). This figure points out to poor accessibility of transport services to residents. Ridesharing will enable the town to solve this menace by injecting more cabs into the city. The competition will, in turn, lower cab prices, consequently making transport both affordable and accessible.
Authorities in Vancouver and British Columbia need to authorize rideshare companies for they are the future of transportation. As Harnett (2016) states, the sharing economy, the concept within which ridesharing operates, exists, and is getting bigger. Instead of the Authorities in Vancouver rejecting this idea to safeguard the interests of a few normal taxi drivers, they need to look at the bigger picture. According to Ladner (2016), more than 400 cities in the world have authorized ride-sharing cab services, with Uber being the most prominent. Such high authorization rates globally point to the fact that rideshares are convenient and appealing to clients. They also create jobs for citizens and generally make cities more efficient. This is contrary to the assertion made by BC authorities that rideshare services will drive up unemployment. Harnett (2016) further notes that due to the failure to embrace change, Vancouver remains isolated in North America as the only big city without authorized rideshare services.
The authorization of ride-share services in Vancouver will decongest the city, reduce pollution, and improve safety by reducing the risk of drunk driving. As Travis Calanick, the CEO of Uber said in a recent event in Vancouver, cities that want to create jobs, reduce traffic, and lower pollution have Uber as the perfect solution (Orton, 2016). The introduction of rideshare services in Vancouver will lessen the number of other cars on the roads. Ladner (2016) confirms that one shared car has the potential of eliminating between nine and thirteen cars out of the road. This will lower the demand for parking spaces, lower emissions, and generally ease congestion.
Provincial authorities have raised several issues with shared rides and stated that these issues are the reason why they have barred their authorization in various cities across the province. The first reason cited is that ride-sharing puts the safety of passengers at risk. There have been incidences of Uber drivers assaulting clients and others causing accidents (Ladner, 2016). The authorities state that they need more time to assess the viability of shared rides in the context of the safety of their users. This claim by the provincial authorities is not valid for there have been only a few reported negative incidences involving rideshare drivers. None of them has been reported in Canada. It is important to point out that other provinces in Canada have already authorized ride-sharing (Hampel, 2016).
The other piece of criticism put forward by these authorities to bar entry of rideshare services into B.C is that they will take away revenue from cities to other countries and make current taxi drivers jobless (Harnett, 2016). This argument is flawed for the reality is opposite. Rideshares do not seek to eliminate existing taxis from the roads, but they strive to operate alongside them (Hampel, 2016). The argument about job losses is therefore not valid. The issue of ride-sharing companies taking away revenue from local authorities is also flawed because the services of these companies will be subjected to taxation.
In conclusion, rideshare companies should be allowed to operate in Vancouver, BC for they bring along numerous benefits. They will make transport more accessible and affordable, lower pollution, ease congestion, and create jobs. Other provinces in Canada have already legalized this service, and British Columbia should not be an exception.
Hampel, E. C. (2016, February 24). B.C. needs to change rules to make ridesharing a more viable option: VBOT. Business in Vancouver. Retrieved from https://www.biv.com/article/2016/2/bc-needs-change-rules-make-ridesharing-more-viable/
Harnett, C. E. (2016, April 26). Bill aims to end ride-share ‘vacuum’; B.C. Green Party leader says timeline, rules overdue for Uber, Lyft. Times Colonist, p. A.3.
Ladner, P. (2016, November 22). B.C. politicians asleep at the wheel on the ride-sharing issue. Business in Vancouver. Retrieved from https://www.biv.com/article/2016/11/bc-politicians-asleep-wheel-ride-sharing-issue/
Orton, T. (2016, February 16). Updated: Uber CEO says Vancouver rules ‘need to bend’ for ride-sharing service. Business in Vancouver. Retrieved from https://www.biv.com/article/2016/2/uber-ceo-says-vancouver-has-rules-need-bend-ride-s/