B.C. issues more fines to illegal rideshare drivers

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Province will develop new legislation this year to rein in unauthorized taxi services

Kevin Tuong / Metro

B.C.’s Passenger Transportation Branch says it continues to crack down on illegal rideshare drivers, and has fined 12 more people over the past three weeks.

The agency said Monday it continues to investigate and issue penalties to anyone operating an unauthorized taxi or ride-hailing service. To date, in addition to 20 cease-and-desist orders, the branch has issued a total of 23 fines of $1,150 each to drivers.

During public hearings earlier this month, B.C. MLAs heard that illegal ride-hailing services have proliferated across the Lower Mainland, Victoria and Kelowna, with at least six companies operating in the province.

Companies operating under the names Go Kabu, Udi Kuaiche and U Drop, Racoon Go, Longmao, Dingdang Carpool and AO Rideshare are all operating in B.C., the hearings were told, with many of the companies targeting Metro Vancouver’s Chinese-speaking population.

On Jan. 9, the Passenger Transportation Branch told Metro it has issued 20 cease-and-desist orders and 11 fines. There have been no more cease and desist orders issued since that time, but the number of fines has risen to 23.

Kristin Vanderkuip, registrar of the branch, told the parliamentary committee that some of the drivers for these companies don’t even hold valid drivers licences, let alone the required Class 4 licence, medical exam, and appropriate insurance currently required to carry paying passengers.

The fines affect the drivers who use ride-hailing apps, not the companies offering the online platforms hosting them. That’s something new rideshare legislation will need to address, NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert previously told Metro.

“There are no laws relating to actually finding the business and sending the business on to the drivers,” he said. “The company remains intact, the driver takes the hit: why would the company care?”

MLAs from all parties agreed that penalties for driving paying passengers without adequate insurance and other safeguards need to be higher. But, they argued, any stricter rules need to be developed in conjunction with new laws allowing and regulating rideshare services such as Uber.

However, it would likely take around a year to draft, debate and adopt such legislation