B.C.’s Transportation Minister looks to be making a u-turn when it comes to Uber, as he takes a softer tone this week with the controversial ride share service.
Where once he said he was getting dozens of traffic enforcement officers at the ready if the ride sharing app ever came to Vancouver, today he says it’s only a matter of time.
“Any formal entry of ride sharing in B.C. – which as I’ve said is a matter of when, not if – the entry of ride sharing is done in a very responsible way that also balances the issues and respects the jobs and the investments in the taxi industry.”
“So we have the opportunity, if we all continue to talk, to get it right here in British Columbia. To balance the interests of the taxi industry, the investments they’ve made.”
In the meantime, questions do remain about Uber’s insurance coverage protecting passengers if an accident happens.No Uber or new cab services coming to Vancouver
Several insurance companies have made public statements warning that driving for Uber is considered commercial use of a car, and is not applicable for private vehicles.
Stone says it’s an issue the province is currently working on.
“Well, these are exactly the kinds of details that have to be discussed, and are being discussesd.”
Uber started up operations in Toronto and Edmonton amid intense protests from the taxi industry, and concerns city bylaws were not keeping up with the rideshare app’s business plan.
READ MORE: Surrey transportation committee cool to Uber
Vancouver not happy
But the city of Vancouver is concerned decisions about the service are being made behind closed doors.
Councillor Geoff Meggs says it appears certain players have had access to the minister pushing an agenda to cover their interests not the regions.
Meggs notes while Todd Stone sounds a softer tone now it wasn’t long ago he was pledging to root out Uber drivers.
“It appears the having said a year ago that everything would have to go through the Passenger Transportation Board, one set of rules for all, he’s now simply saying we’re going to have ride sharing – it’s inevitable. But what does he mean by that? Will we get the upsides? Will there be some protection for people with disabilities, who Uber says [it] will not serve people with disabilities.”
Meggs is also concerned Uber could pull a percentage of a billion dollar industry out of province and country.