What is the future of taxis in a progressively evolving industry?
With the latest provision set forth for ride-hailing companies to flood Metro Vancouver, the taxi industry feels this is “unlawful” and is jeopardizing the future of a long-running transportation industry. Thousands of workers and their families rely on this as their only source of income, and having an influx of ridesharing companies will saturate the business, thus negatively impacting the pre-existing industry. Mohan Kang, president of the B.C. Taxi Association, speaks on behalf of the members of the taxi industry, saying “the government fell short of its commitment to a level playing field in the following areas:
1. Open access to all areas regardless in the Metro Vancouver area
2. Driver classification that does not meet the standards of the Employment Standards Act
3. Due process for drivers to protect them from indiscriminate termination
By allowing the Transportation Network Services (TNS), or in other words companies such as Uber and Lyft, additional leeway in their operations in Metro Vancouver, the taxi industry is left at a disadvantage in competing with the TNS.”
Further, the public safety measures taken by these companies are not at par with the long list of requirements needed to operate a taxi, which is alarming considering that the public may not receive the same level of safe service they seek. The taxi industry does acknowledge the desire of a progressive population to seek out new alternatives to transportation, but also notes that BC does not have a fair, regulated system for the sudden addition of ride-hailing business ventures, putting the current industry at a competitive disadvantage.
Kang notes that “there is a lack of a cap on the number of ride-hailing vehicles and low rates that can be set by ride-hailing companies.” The lack of policies governing this will prove to have detrimental effects for taxi business, and thus a petition and legal action is being taken to protect the taxi industry. Uber and Lyft have an alternative view of the situation, however, and note that they are not completely new to the business. Their over seven-year existence has made them well-known even in areas where they did not yet provide service, so Uber claims that “taxi companies had ample time to adapt their service model to be more competitive.”
These companies are willing to co-exist, but do not believe it is fair for them to take the blame for running a different, competitive business model that Metro Vancouver customers need in times where the taxi industry falls short of providing adequate transportation services. When approaching the public, many people had strong opinions based on how this change would affect them personally. For instance, a Surrey resident being interviewed mentioned that an Uber was “convenient, able to find anywhere, and needed for the growing student population.” This is a common trend for many other residents who were asked, but another side brought up frequently includes the concern of safety despite the obvious convenience and availability.
With a continued fight from both sides of the spectrum, it is evident that both the taxi and rideshare industries are determined to continue protecting the livelihood of their business in a progressive society in BC. The question remains if a common ground can be reached to ensure a secure future for both parties.