Uber in Victoria? Company hints it could come to B.C.’s capital
For the first time, tech giant Uber has mentioned Victoria as a perfect candidate for its ride-sharing services.
The company says ride-sharing could work in B.C. cities beyond Metro Vancouver, including Kelowna, Kamloops – and the capital.
Uber operates in dozens of Canadian cities, but the company has been embroiled in a bitter war over legislation on the West Coast.
Uber Canada says the spring session of Legislature would be a perfect opportunity for the province to take leadership and embrace ride-sharing.
The company offers an app in 67 countries that connects drivers the company licenses to riders who use the online service.
In 2014, rumours Uber was mounting a surprise launch in Vancouver prompted Transportation Minister Todd Stone to threaten legal action against the company.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said she would welcome Uber to the city if the company plays by the rules.
“I support it as long as it’s fair, I support it as long as Uber doesn’t bust into British Columbia and then see what happens,” she said. “I support them working with the Minister of Transportation to create a legislative framework that makes it fair.”
An online petition pushing for Uber in B.C. has reached over 55,000 signatures. According to the company, some 100,000 residents have the Uber app despite it not being in service in the province.
Taxi associations in cities across the country have spoken out against ride-sharing, saying services are largely unregulated and cut into their bottom line.
Uber has argued ride-sharing cuts down on carbon emissions and impaired driving.
In a statement released Friday, Stone said he isn’t rushing to any conclusions.
“Our government is looking for every opportunity to respond to the needs of consumers, to support the free market and competition in the industry, while also ensuring travelers are secure in the knowledge that they pay to ride in vehicles that are safe, reliable and properly insured,” he said.
Any suggestion Uber is moving into Victoria is speculative, but that didn’t stop local taxi drivers from expressing frustration at having to step in to a battle that has raged between the company and cabbies in other cities.
“I mean guys are going to lose their living, guys are going to lose their cabs,” said Victoria taxi driver B.J. Roberts . “That’s what’s happening in Toronto right now. Guys are turning in their medallions, and we don’t want that.”
There’s no timeline in place, but Uber said it’s ready to work with Stone and B.C. Premier Christy Clark to provide more transportation options in the province.
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