Ride-share rules seem reasonable

If Lyft doesn’t like B.C.’s new ride-sharing rules, they don’t have to come here.

One of the two major ride-sharing providers along with Uber, Lyft wasted no time criticizing new rules the B.C. government introduced this week.

The government announced ride-sharing companies will be able to apply for licences to the Passenger Transportation Board by the beginning of September and will be able to offer rides soon after that.

But Lyft, the “Official Rideshare Partner of the Vancouver Canucks and Rogers Arena,” thinks the new rules are too harsh.

In particular, the government is demanding ride-sharing drivers have the class 4 licences required by taxi, limo and other commercial drivers who regularly carry paying passengers.

What the government calls safety regulations, Lyft considers red tape, but it’s not unreasonable that drivers in this new industry meet at least a few basic qualifications.

Not everyone with an ordinary, easy-to-get class 5 driver’s licence is cut out to be a ride-share driver.

Requiring drivers to pass a few extra tests and meet a few additional standards just makes good safety sense.

The government’s new rules will also require drivers to undergo criminal and driver record checks. A driver cannot have four or more pointable driving offences within two years or any serious driving infractions within a three-year time frame. Illegal operators can face fines of up to $100,000 per day.

Drivers of taxis and ride-hail vehicles will be required to conduct annual inspection if their vehicles have logged 40,000 kilometres or less in the previous year. A semi-annual inspection will be required if vehicles log more than 40,000 kilometres or more. Ride-hail vehicles cannot be older than 10 years.

ICBC will offer insurance packages for ride-hailing companies and their vehicle owners. Those are red-tape reduction measures, in fact.

Uber, the other giant industry, has reserved comment.

At least one small Western Canadian player is ready to jump in if the big players want to balk at B.C.’s new rules.

Late last year, when these rules were first being considered, TappCar, which described itself as western-based and Canada’s third largest rideshare company, called the requirement for a Class 4 passenger licence, regular criminal checks and the threat of strict penalties on companies that operate outside the law, “a gold standard for safety.”

“In any market we seek to operate in, we look for comprehensive safety rules and regulations to be in place. To that end, this legislation is a home run for drivers and passengers,” TappCar spokesperson Pascal Ryffel said in a news release.

The reality is while Lyft and ride-sharing lobbyists are complaining vociferiously about the new rules, they’d face a shareholder revolt if they reject the gold mine that’s in their future just because of the class 4 licence issue.

They’ll learn to live with these reasonable regulations.

If not, then the future will be even brighter for companies like Tappcar

— City Editor Pat Bulmer

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