Saying council should have consulted taxi drivers before voting on a presentation by the controversial Uber ride-sharing service, a group of more than two dozen Langley cabbies came to Township council Monday night to give their side of the issue.
Tim Land, general manager for Pacific Cabs, told The Times the drivers had no idea council would be considering a Uber request for a letter of support until the vote was taken on Nov. 23.
Council voted eight-to-one to send a letter to the provincial government, urging it to allow ride-sharing, “in a manner that ensures public safety and meets the needs of the residents of B.C.”
“We felt blindsided,” Land said.
The taxi viewpoint was presented by Mohan Kang, president of the Victoria-based B.C. Taxi Association, who said the U.S. based Uber has a history of operating illegally, does not pay taxes in B.C., nor does it pay the large business licence fees cabbies do.
Kang added Uber doesn’t require commercial driving licences, doesn’t accept cash or debit cards and does not require drivers to pass criminal record checks or to operate disabled-accessible vehicles.
“We are not saying Uber should not come,” Kang said.
“(We are saying) Uber should abide by the rules.”
In a written submission filed at the same time, Kang said the 134 taxi companies that belong to the non-profit association, including two in Langley, are made up of small business entrepreneurs who operate as the “eyes and ears” of the communities they serve, reporting crime and looking for missing children in support of Amber Alerts.
“We participate in the community,” Kang said.
Kang disputed Uber’s claim that it charges less than taxis, noting the company has a flexible rates schedule that can jack up fees by as much as 300 per cent during busy times.
Uber is said to be valued at $70 billion U.S. and is now operating in over 300 cities and 50 countries.