Uber’s decision to retreat from BC market may give time for a sane ride-sharing solution

taxiUber’s decision to retreat, for a second time, from a launch into the BC marketplace means the door may be open, at last, to develop a sensible ride-sharing regulatory regime that balances the needs of customers with the economic viability of all the players, including the taxi industry.

It’s virtually certain that Uber’s decision was not strictly “voluntary,” but resulted from the conclusion that any early decision by Victoria would be unfavourable to the global multinational.

Why? Because Uber has close ties to the ruling BC Liberal Party and undoubtedly decided — or was told — that no decision would be better than a “no” decision. The Premier’s former pollster is an Uber government relations lobbyist and the BC NDP found links between Uber and cabinet minister Peter Fassbender’s chief of staff.

Consider the chaotic positioning of the BC Liberals in the last few weeks. Uber was “inevitable,” then it would have to play by “existing rules” and finally that the province was ready to “open the door.” Two cabinet ministers, Todd Stone and Fassbender are working the file, no doubt watching with apprehension as the Uber issue continues to cause turmoil in Montreal and Toronto.

Now they have an opportunity to take a direction the City of Vancouver developed and proposed last fall: a round table consultation with all stakeholders to develop a made-in-BC approach to ride-sharing technology. The result should be a new policy that everyone can endorse.