The City of Victoria is looking to revamp its taxi bylaws in anticipation of ride-hailing services coming to town in the new year.
According to the province, 10 ride hailing companies have applied to work in the Capital Region since policies were instated in September, meaning soon they will be on the streets.
Ride-hailing services must apply to both the province and the municipality for a business licence, but currently additional rules are in place at a municipal level for taxi drivers. In Victoria, for example, taxi drivers need to follow the city’s Vehicles for Hire bylaw which currently has no rules for ride-hailing services.
“It’s unusual circumstances,” said city clerk Chris Coates, who is the lead on the city’s Ride Hailing Report. “The City has bylaws that apply to one stream of the industry and not the other.”
Additionally, there are duplications in the requirements set forth by the province and the City which adds additional time. In the meanwhile, if a company has a provincial licence and paid the mandatory business licence fees, the City is obligated to issue the business licence if additional policies aren’t in place. Policies are not required at a municipal level, but the City of Victoria has chosen put some in place.
Theoretically, Coates explained, this could mean that a ride hailing driver could get a licence faster than a taxi driver even if they applied at the same time.
“That’s why we want to take those out of the mix and do a more fulsome review of passenger-directed vehicles,” Coates said.
As a result, city staff are proposing suspending the current taxi licensing and operating conditions while they review the current policies and decide how to move forward in the future.
“This would make it a more even playing field,” Coates said.
City staff are presenting these issues to council on Thursday, and hope to have a fuller analysis of possible new policies available in January.