After a long long time , Vancouver and the province has finally approved Uber and Lyft to operate this week.
Vancouver was the only large metropolis in North America where Uber and Lyft were pretty much outlawed and unable to operate.
British Columbia’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena has blamed the old government for stalling so long:
British Columbians have been asking for new ride hailing services since 2012, but the old government failed to get it done. Our government did the hard work and delivered.
Over the last two years, our government has been diligent in developing a framework that puts passenger safety first, and we remained steadfast against pressures to abandon the safety measures we put in place. Road users can now be confident that B.C.’s ride-hailing services will comply with some of the highest safety standards in North America.
BC Minister of Transportation
While a lot of users took to twitter to share their joy
… while some were not so pleased:
Uber and Lyft were ecstatic to be able to operate again in Vancouver.
Lyft and Uber are almost identically priced, Uber seems cheaper when we tried to get a quote to go to the famous Phnom Penh Restaurant from the airport: $24-$30 with Uber vs $30-$35 with Lyft. If you decide to take the same ride from airport with taxi, it will cost you the most, around $37.
While Uber said it will cover the whole metro area , Lyft said that for now it will be just sticking to the core of the city.
Area Where Uber Operates in Vancouver
Area Where Lyft Operates
For now, Uber and Lyft are the only two companies that are allowed to operate in Vancouver but BC Transportation Ministry said that they will be approving other ride sharing companies soon.
The minimum number of years of required driving experience will now increase from 1 year to 3 years;
training program must be passed covering such topics as transporting passengers in a safe manner, driving in an urban setting, providing accessible service, anti-racism, diversity and sensitivity;
all ride sharing drivers will now be required to attach “Watch for Bikes” on their windows to alert passengers when exiting;
must alert passengers if they are being recorded.
If you are a new driver you have to pass the training by June 2020, if you are an existing driver you have until end of 2020 to complete it.
Also a handheld devices such as cell phones will now need to be securely secured and mounted in the vehicles.
There will be also a new program called “Accessibility Fund Program” which will charge a fee for not providing a wheel chair accessible transportation, all the fees collected will go to fund special wheel chair accessible transportation.
Montreal is slowly catching up to Toronto. Lyft has mentioned that they are looking to add Montreal to their list of Canadian locations where they operate. They have been operating in The Greater Toronto area since the end of 2018. They also have recently launched their service in Ottawa.
Lyft mentioned that they potentially will be launching in the summer of 2019 in Montreal. Lyft thinks that the new Bill 21 in Quebec will be good for their business, even though hundreds of taxi drivers there protested against it, and some even did self imposed harm, like cutting their wrists on live TV, to get media attention.
Uber is in the news a lot lately due to passengers’ major safety issues. To counter image that Uber is unsafe, Uber has decided to launch in-app safety feature that will be rolled out in Canada and USA first.
So why is Uber launching this safety feature now? Because a lot of Uber app users do not check the car they are getting into and can end up in a dangerous situation.
In Toronto just recently female passenger got into a vehicle she thought was her Uber – but ended up in a wrong vehicle and got sexually assaulted.
According to Toronto Police’s investigation into a sexual assault in the Royal York Road and Evans Avenue area. Police said that a 21-year-old woman entered a black SUV driven by a man, the man drove her away from Toronto not allowing her to exit the SUV , he took her to a fast food restaurant parking lot in Mississauga , the woman tried to get assistance from a bystander , he then drove her to a secluded side street , he sexually assaulted her , The woman was dropped off later that morning, she then contacted police.
In South Carolina – same thing happened – student got into a wrong car – and was discovered murdered shortly. Police there said that they believe South Carolina student entered a wrong vehicle that was not her Uber.
Uber’s new Check your ride initiative launched the following educational video to remind Uber users to be careful:
Uber reminds people to match the car model and license plate with the information in the app and recommends you follow the following three steps:
Match the license plate number
Match the car make and model
Check the driver’s photo
Uber also recommends you use Follow My Ride feature. This new feature allows you to inform people on your whereabouts.
The company that wanted to take on Uber and had government backing could not last even 3 years, as it was forced to shut down this week and their work force of about 450 drivers were let go.
Dominic Becotte, interim president for Teo, said that as much as they tried the company remained unprofitable all these years.
Becotte said Uber was partially to blame because “the conditions are not the same for all players in the mobility sector.”
Teo was given about $7.25 million dollars in Quebec government subsidies (around $5m for electric vehicle, $1.25m for vehicles and $1m for taxi permits). Teo said that was not enough, and tried to ask for more help from Quebec government but was denied.
It is not clear why backers like FTQ Solidarity Fund and the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec did not step up to provide Teo more money. They have initially backed it with around $25m.
The big problems for Teo were three fold:
Quebec government did not allow them to adjust their rates and tariffs dynamically – meaning rush hour or big concert demand – Teo still could only get one pricing for the service
Electric vehicles are way more expensive to maintain than initially anticipated
Drivers had decided to unionize and therefore most likely driven costs even higher
Alexandre Taillefer, founder of Teo, said that they will now seek protection from its creditors.
Taillefer had initially touted three years ago:
“I’m not worried about Uber at all. We’re very confident we’ll provide an experience that’s way better. And what we’re doing for the drivers is fantastic. We’re allowing them to make a decent living while driving a cab. Montrealers need to adopt companies that focus on enhancing the lives of drivers.”
Doug Ford, recently elected Ontario premier, has decided to cut down on some red tape when it comes to self driving cars in Canadian province of Ontario.
Of course, it will not be free for all , and drivers would need to follow the following exemptions:
Regular folks like you and me can use self-driving cars but only if they are designed to be Level 3 – Conditional Automation: The vehicle becomes a co-pilot. The vehicle manages most safety-critical driving functions but the driver must be ready to take control of the vehicle at all times. The problem is none of the cars on the market in Canada are Level 3 so we might need to wait a bit for them to come here.
When it comes to approved auto manufacturers, tech companies, universities, research institutions and systems manufacturers – they can operate Level 5 – Full Automation: Vehicle is capable of being completely driverless. Full-time automated driving in all conditions without need for a human driver. The government will need to sign off on each car that they own before they can start driving it around or more accurately being driven around in one. Also as a driver inside the car even though you are not driving you will still be responsible for the car’s operations and be charged for any offense: distracted, careless and impaired driving laws.
“At the University of Waterloo we are conducting unique research in the field of autonomous vehicles, like improving self-driving in Canadian weather conditions such as sleet and snow. After recently celebrating 100 kilometres driven on public roads, the measures announced today will allow projects like Autonomoose to further advance important research opportunities in this emerging sector, while training highly qualified personnel for industry.”
Ross McKenzie Managing Director, WatCAR, University of Waterloo
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