The provincial government’s all-party committee on ridesharing is in the midst of holding hearings on whether or not to allow this service into British Columbia.
I’ve written about this topic before expressing my concerns about the negative impact ridesharing services such Uber and Lyft will have on taxi drivers. One of my biggest concerns is that many taxi drivers will see their life savings put at risk if the taxi industry is not protected one way or another.
A number of people at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives have researched and spoken out about interesting alternatives that offer homegrown solutions with various forms of ridesharing, car-sharing or just plain sharing of ride resources, some of which can protect taxi drivers at the same time.
In each case, the solution is tailor-made for the jurisdiction concerned and avoids some of the pitfalls and poor practices that have plagued ride-hailing companies. (Employee mistreatment and corporate scandals at both Uber and Lyft have been well-documented, including Lyft’s opposition to its drivers’ attempts to unionize.).
For instance, in Winnipeg taxi drivers formed their own successful taxi cooperative. In some jurisdictions in the States, community-owned ride-sharing services have sprung up.
When both Uber and Lyft turned their backs on Austin, Texas, for example, a number of ride-hailing alternatives filled the void, including the community-based RideAustin. This non-profit, community-based rideshare service enables drivers to earn more income since RideAustin doesn’t take any commission, plus it donates monies raised to various community health and cultural initiatives.
What a great idea for B.C.! A community-owned ridesharing service could be better tailored to offer a win-win solution — better service for the consumer, but also protection for the current taxi drivers and a boost for the community. This week, the B.C. Taxi Association recommended a made-in-B.C. solution to the all-party committee: a single app that would give access to all ride services (including both taxis and Uber).
Let’s keep our eye on B.C.’s ride-sharing strategy and the all-party committee hearings. Some big changes appear to be on their way.