Uber coming soon if Kelowna council gets its way - InfoNews

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Uber coming soon if Kelowna council gets its way

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January 15, 2018 - 7:30 PM

KELOWNA - Even if Uber didn’t exist, Kelowna’s taxicab system — especially its late night service — isn’t working and is in need of a serious overhaul.

That’s the opinion of Coun. Brad Sieben, speaking in support of the city’s position on ride sharing.

“In my opinion we have a crisis in the current cab situation,” Sieben said. “You can go out with good intentions to get a ride home instead of drinking and driving then it doesn’t pan out. Even if Uber wasn’t in the mix, I think the system is broken. We don’t restrict restaurants, why restrict the free market in taxis?"

B.C. is one of the last jurisdictions in North America to allow oft-controversial ride sharing services and the provincial government is seeking the opinion of municipalities across the province in advance of its introduction.

City staff on Monday, Jan. 15, presented for council’s endorsement a draft letter of support.

Transit manager Jerry Dombowsky told councillors ride sharing — in all its forms — fits in with the city’s short- and long-term goal of reducing the number of single-occupant trips made in cars and trucks.

“Our aim is to make it as easy as possible to enter the field and create as many options as possible for the consumers,” he said.

Dombowsky notes in the letter that small and medium sized communities with fewer dependable transportation options will likely see more impact from ride sharing than larger cities.

The city wants to see ride-sharing and traditional taxi services regulated separately while maintaining a “level playing field” for both.

Safety is the overarching theme of the city’s position, and as such, it wants criminal record checks conducted for all drivers, with municipalities able to draft additional related bylaws.

No limits should be prescribed on the number of drivers, the letter notes, as such restrictions is what causes the late-night supply problems in the first place.

Pick-ups from traditional taxi stands however should be allowed as the safety benefits afforded by the trip records disappears when ride-share drivers pick up passengers off the app.

New transportation companies should be required to share data with host municipalities, and fees or taxes applied to the industry should be shared with cities to help mitigate problems that may emerge.

Finally, the city wants to retain some powers of regulation and enforcement, and those areas should be clearly defined.

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