The Vancouver Taxi Association is pitching a plan to help keep ride-hailing companies like Uber out of Metro Vancouver.
The association has a tentative agreement in place to develop a ride-for-hire app called Kater. The deal would leave 20 per cent of the profits with taxi companies and calls for provincial licensing of 200 “Kater Cabs,” which would operate like typical ride-hailing cars that companies like Uber and Lyft have operating in other cities.
Vancouver Taxi Association spokesperson Carolyn Bauer says what happens next depends on what the provincial government decides to do with Dan Hara’s Report. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena is expected to announce the province’s “next steps” around ride hailing on Thursday morning.
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Trevena will be releasing Dan Hara’s report as part of Thursday’s event. Hara was tasked by the province to consult with the taxi industry and suggest ways for a ‘made-in B.C.’ approach to ride-hailing.
The Vancouver Taxi Association is working with Surrey businessman Monty Sikka on the Kater Cabs proposal. The current model would be that Kater cars would charge the same rate to riders as any Vancouver Taxi Association vehicle.
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In June, B.C. premier John Horgan was reluctant to ensure that the government would honour it’s commitment to deliver ride-hailing in the province by Christmas 2018. At the time, Horgan said the province was running out of time to have cars on the road in six months.
“I’ve had ten months to work on it and I’m going to need a couple months more,” said Horgan in June. “We have public auto insurance here in the province that makes us unique.”
“We have to make sure we do this in a way that doesn’t destroy the industry as we have it today.”
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Ridesharing Now, an advocacy group pushing for the province to allow ride-hailing services, says the taxi industry has fought the new industry around the world. Spokesperson Ian Tostenson says that taxi companies should no longer have a “complete monopoly.” Instead he proposes the province allow Lyft and Uber to operate on a “fair and level basis” with whatever the Taxi Association is proposing.
“You just end up with 200 more cabs and a brand that no one understands,” saidTostenson. “If that became the solution for ride sharing in B.C. I think we would have failed miserably because you expect the traveler to come from California they would have to download the Kater app. That doesn’t make sense.”