Thank you so much for taking the time to reach out to me about your support for Transportation Network Services (TNS) also colloquially known as “ridesharing”. It’s clear that people are frustrated with the lack of transportation choices in BC and it’s time for that to change. The horror stories are endless and I have also had my blood boil over particularly infuriating experiences.
British Columbians have been waiting patiently since 2012 for their government to regulate these services so that they can operate here. While I cannot speak to the absence of progress made in the five years before we formed government in July 2017, I can share with you today that enabling legislation has just been passed in the House this week.
This legislation updates eight separate statutes, including the:
- Passenger Transportation Act
- Insurance (Vehicle) Act
- Insurance Corporation Act
- Motor Vehicle Act
- Commercial Transport Act
- Local Government Act
- Community Charter
- Vancouver Charter
These changes open the door to the introduction of a new type of ridehailing insurance product and regulatory amendments that Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) have been asking for to enter the market in BC.
Now that the legislative changes have passed, we are able to move forward on the regulatory amendments that are required. I have been asked by government to lead an all-party committee to provide input on some outstanding regulatory questions. The motion allowing this to proceed has just passed on Tuesday and I will set to work on this to the best of my ability and with haste.
As part of this update, I would also like to acknowledge that some of you may have heard complaints from TNC companies like Uber about BC’s intention to make data-based decisions on the number of vehicles on the road, enforce criminal record checks for drivers and inspections for vehicles, and insist on Class 4 licensing. It’s important that these measures exist because of two issues that other jurisdictions have faced difficulties with: Public safety and congestion.
On public safety, I believe the vehicle inspections and criminal record check requirements are self-explanatory. The requirements for a Class 4 drivers’ license are effectively: Class 5 License, 19+ years of age, a clean(ish) driving record, and a medical examination as some medical conditions may prevent a driver from obtaining a Class 4 license, such as certain types of epilepsy or heart conditions. This being said, at the urging of the opposition, the committee will assess whether there is merit to reconsidering this requirement.
Some people may find the relationship between TNCs and congestion to be counter-intuitive. Unfortunately, the findings of recent studies on this topic are now unequivocal: without the ability to make evidence-based decisions on the number of vehicles we should have on the road, TNCs substantially increase congestion. As someone who largely focuses their time on the issue of transportation, it is important to me that we are doing what we can to avoid exasperating congestion on the North Shore while providing people with more choice.
Two reports are very relevant to this topic:
The first report emphasizes that the unregulated supply of TNCs have accounted for approximately 50% of all increase in congestion in San Francisco from 2010-2016. For context, the other 50% is attributable to increases in population and employment growth.
The second report explains that for every vehicle-mile taken off the road as a result of the use of a TNS, 2.8 vehicle-miles are added onto the roads, resulting in a 180% increase in vehicle-miles per trip. Even with the benefits of Uber-Pool and other such services, the increase only reduces to a 160% increase. It also notes that TNSs can draw riders away from transit and other more ecologically friendly modes of travel.
This is one of the reasons why many jurisdictions are now trying to “close the barn door after the horses have escaped”. New York City, for instance, has recently voted to now try to cap vehicles, but they will face significant difficulties trying to do it after the fact. Here in BC, we have the benefit of foresight and will have the opportunity to manage this issue from the start.
The framework created for BC is based on the lessons learned from other jurisdictions, and several experts have lauded our approach. Shauna Brail, associate professor in urban studies at the University of Toronto has said that BC’s, “skipped over ride-hailing 1.0 and they’re at ride-hailing 2.0”. More locally, Clark Lim, transportation engineering and planning professional and instructor at both UBC and SFU has said, “the BC Government is doing the right thing and I think this will be a model for how to regulate ride-hailing for the rest of the world”.
While TNCs may choose to apply to operate under BC’s existing ridehailing framework today, those companies choosing to wait for the new regulations and insurance product to be fully implemented before applying can expect to do so by fall 2019.
All this being said, the frustration people feel with current transportation options is absolutely valid and I work hard to try to help the North Shore address their transportation challenges in an effective way. This is why I initiated and chaired the Integrated North Shore Transportation Planning Project, which has led to an unprecedented consensus report on the way forward for the region.
I believe that TNCs and TNSs can be a part of a healthy transportation ecosystem if managed well, and I commit to doing my part on this.
Thank you once again for taking the time to write to me with your feedback and concerns on transportation options on the North Shore. Transportation is one of my primary areas of focus and I intend to continue this work as your MLA.
In your service,