Officials of Calgary, a city that has long legalized Uber’s operation in its area, shared with CBC News how Vancouver – the latest city to jump on to the ride-hailing bandwagon – can successfully keep the transportation network company’s (TNC) business in check.
BC authorities have announced new regulations that would allow TNCs like Uber and Lyft to operate in the province as soon as December this year – but there are a number of pressing concerns that must be addressed.
One is the issue of public safety, officials told CBC News; unlike traditional taxis, TNCs lack any safety oversight and will need adequate insurance coverage.
In 2015, Calgary won an injunction to prevent Uber from operating due to a lack of proper insurance for TNC drivers. Today, the city’s police enforce proper driver insurance and licensing among TNC drivers, and perform regular vehicle inspections and background checks.
Calgary Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra explained that while the city gave Uber freedom to determine things like fee structures, it put its foot down on the matter of safety.
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“What we basically told them was, look, we understand what you guys are doing. We understand that this is disruptive technology,” Carra explained to CBC News. “But we’re here to ensure public safety, so we insist on a number of criteria.”
Officials also suggested that Vancouver should carefully consider the state of its cab industry.
Calgary Councilor Evan Woolley elaborated that thanks to TNCs, taxi companies in the region found much-needed competition, which improved conditions for cab drivers but exposed big companies to a disruptive competitor.
“Take a look at what your job is as a municipality,” Carra added. “Is it to protect the taxi companies, to protect the industry as it currently exists? Or is it to ensure public safety? And act accordingly.”
Woolley also noted that Vancouver should consider charging TNCs a per-trip flat fee which goes toward paying for all the extra safety work the city performs.
“This is a service that makes your city better,” Woolley said. “[But] you need to ensure that you’re getting cost recovery. Any administrative costs need to be covered off.”
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