The province announced Tuesday (March 7) it will be ready to roll out ride-sharing services by the holiday season of 2017, meaning the introduction of Uber or Lyft would have to come after May's provincial election.
A government news release yesterday stated that the province "will invest up to $1 million to help the taxi industry develop an app with the capability of shared dispatch to allow the taxi sector provincewide to better compete with new entrants to the market, and allow the public to hail and pay for a taxi with a smartphone in the same way that they would for a ride-sharing service".
"There's a lot of pressure on the government, particularly from millennials, to get something that is beyond what the taxis are offering", said lawyer Bill McLachlan, who represents the BC Taxi Association.
He said ICBC will also pay up to $3.5 million to install new crash avoidance technology in taxis as a means of helping taxi firms reduce their down time and resulting costs.
In addition, taxicabs will retain the exclusive right to be hired by phone, at a taxi stand, or to be flagged down by a pedestrian on the curb.
Meggs was also critical of the province's decision to give cabs and ride-hailing drivers equal access to cross municipal boundaries.
"It's very progressive thinking", said Nitesh Mistry, director of business operations at Vancouver-based Ripe Rides.
If the Liberals want to satisfy the taxi industry, however, there appears to be much work to do.
Horgan said he agrees that taxis should be able to pick-up and drop-off customers anywhere, but that the province also needs more cabs on the road.
While private Uber drivers could operate without geographic or price restrictions, the existing taxi industry has been bound by licenses tied to specific municipal borders and fixed pricing set by the province.
The Vancouver Taxi Association swiftly promised to fight the province's plan any way it could, including in the courtroom.
"The new process that will be put in place will ensure as level a playing field as possible between ride-sharing companies and the taxi industry in the insurance that they will require to assure consumers that they are covered", Fassbender said.
Montgomery is the latest city to pave the way for the ride-sharing company Lyft.
Uber and Lyft drivers will be required to uphold the same safety standards as taxis, including criminal record checks and safe driving record checks.
Additionally, to help level the playing field, the province will be eliminating the Class 4 driver licence requirement for taxi drivers.
Uber, Lyft and other similar outfits operate on-demand vehicle services that connect passengers with private drivers, mainly through smartphone apps.