It’s time to bring in ride sharing programs already

3 minute read

I've been reading the ride sharing debate for some time. The most notable arguments against it, are related to the history of the most popular ride sharing program, Uber. Accusations of improper insurance (we have socialized insurance in B.C, easily solved) and below legal minimum hourly wages. People are opposed to allowing ride sharing companies here based on these two arguments -- but if our legislation is so weak we don't think these companies will have recourse for non-compliance, what does that say about our laws? More relevant, if we don't have have recourse for companies paying below minimum wage, how many of them are out there right now? This is not a ride sharing issue, and should be considered separately.

The reason I say we bring rides sharing into B.C, is because I'm a taxi user. The only people arguing against ride sharing are not regular taxi users. There is no regular taxi user that would make this argument, because the situation is so dire. If you're going to comment on this post against ride sharing, please confirm you're at least 3-figures-a-month in a taxi in B.C.

The reason I say this is several:

  • Ask anyone with disabilities what their experience is with taxis, and just listen, don't argue how you think you know better. Taxi companies here in Vancouver will often just hang up on my handicapped friends. Why? They might only want to go a short distance, such as my blind friend and regular taxi user. She misses many events because taxi companies have hung up on her, or they have taken her call and then never show up. Ride sharing services prevent both of these issues from occurring.
  • Taxis often just don't show up. 2 of the last 3 times I've called a taxi, they simply didn't show up. With Uber/Lyft, you know in seconds when you order a ride who's picking you up, and how far away they are. Taxis have no responsibility here.
  • It's a lot better if you're waving down a taxi instead of calling, and a lot better if you're mid-upper class, white, and traveling in a suitable direction. I say this, as it's common for a taxi to pull over and see you, and just drive away; or to just drive by you if they don't like the look of you. There are also many stories where they pull over, case you, and when they ask where you're going, they don't like the response, and just drive away. Ride sharing services have this judgement on racism, travel distance, and socio-economic standing resolved.
  • No way to follow-up with a driver. This can be simple from forgetting a sweater in a cab, or an ID, to more serious allegations of assault and sexual assault from a driver. Good luck getting your garments back from the taxi company, or knowing who drove you home last night. With Uber/Lyft, you know the identity of the driver and can easily have recourse if any of these situations take place. How many people have contacted a taxi company to follow-up with a violent act from a driver and get the cold shoulder and no way to identify their assailant? Even on the less extreme, knowing that a driver will have a reputation score and can clearly be identified changes driver behaviour. This might be anecdotal, but as someone who travels and uses ride-sharing services, Vancouver is a common joke in the regular traveler community due to its terrible taxi service, specifically the weak use of the word service. We're a world class province with a laughable ability to transport our visitors around.

One of my friends who is a world class expert in his field at Google just got poached by a popular video game company that exists here in Vancouver. On his week long visit to meet his senior team, he had one complaint -- ability to travel via Uber/Lyft from his company meetings to downown.

So if you're concerned is that Uber is not going to be following our laws if they come here, work towards ensuring our labour laws are strong enough to discover and remediate companies who are non-compliant. Don't fight against solutions for the disabled and vulnerable that don't exist today. Let's resolve this serious safety problem here in British Columbia as soon as possible.

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