VANCOUVER - Changes made to the application process for ride-hailing in B.C. could lead to a three-week delay in getting services on the road.
The Passenger Transportation Board, which manages ride hailing in B.C., sent a letter to applicants on Wednesday informing them of changes to the process. It means applicants will be able to see each other’s submissions, which the board says is a way to "ensure transparency."
According to the letter, each applicant will have seven days to review which parts of their submission can be shared with other applicants, and some parts of the documents may be redacted to protect confidential information. There will then be another 14 days for applicants to look at each other’s documents and provide any final submissions.
"We have 19 applications that the Passenger Transportation Board is working its way through," said Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation. "I’m pleased that they are doing this in a very fair and responsible way."
Part of the reason for the change in process is a judicial review into the board’s operational policy, launched by the Vancouver Taxi Association and the BC Taxi Association.
Advocacy group Ride Share Now B.C. says it’s another layer of bureaucracy.
"It’s aggravating the public," spokesperson Ian Tostenson told CTV News. "You’ve got 80 per cent of the public that want ride sharing and now what’s happened is the Passenger Transportation Board looks like they’re appeasing the taxi industry yet again to slow down the process to make it more complicated for ridesharing companies to actually get approval to operate."
There's no firm date from the province as to when ride-hailing services will be on the road. But despite the new delay in the process, Premier John Horgan says services will be here by late December.
"I’ve made it abundantly clear to anyone who will listen that I believe that we need to have fair ride-hailing here by Christmas and that’s my commitment," Horgan told reporters Thursday.
Minister Trevena also says she is "confident" that B.C. will have ride-hailing this year.
But Tostenson said this latest development is just added frustration.
"People get cynical in the process. They get cynical about politicians. They don’t understand the Passenger Transport Board. What are all these layers of bureaucracy?" he said. "It’s quite simple. Every other city in North America has ridesharing except Vancouver. It’s not right."