Millennials, businesses lament ridesharing delays at Vancouver forum

The wheels may be slowly grinding into motion when it comes to ridesharing in B.C., but it won’t be fast enough for millennials who are growing frustrated at the delay.

That’s according to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade (GVBoT), which hosted a forum on the future of ridesharing in partnership with a coalition of groups advocating for the service on Wednesday night.

Pressure from the group’s millennial members was the driving force behind the forum, GVBoT president and CEO Iain Black said.

“This matters to them. This was an interesting opportunity to allow a demographic to engage in a public policy conversation that matters to them… and actually talk about how the lack of this service impacts their lives, as a generation who frankly don’t own cars,” said Black, who described the tone of the meeting as a “respectful frustration.”

“This exists in every major city in North America and it doesn’t exist here. We pride ourselves on being a technology city and we don’t have Uber or Lyft or the other ridesharing options… there’s no reason for this to wait until fall of next year, five months from beginning to end is more than enough time.”

B.C.’s NDP government has pledged to unveil legislation to enable ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft before the end of the month.

However, it remains unlikely that the province will see those companies operating before the fall of 2019.

Damon Holowchack, director of brand and marketing for the Donnelly Group — one of the members of the “Ridesharing Now for BC Coalition” — said the business community remains hopeful, but admitted it is growing tired of the wait.

“It’s not just been this year, or the year before or the government previous to this. It’s been a long time since this has been proposed, this has been moving through government,” he said.

“It has been six-plus years since this launched in North America. We have said it’s about time more than once. We’re pretty optimistic about the fact that legislation is going to happen, but we don’t know really or realistically if this is something that’s going to affect us… any time in the near future.”

While ridesharing options won’t be on the road in 2018, the NDP government said it is moving to increase the number of operating taxis.

The province is looking to boost the number of cabs in service in B.C. by 500.

The NDP campaigned in the 2017 election to have ridesharing in place by Christmas of that year, but later pushed that deadline back until fall 2019.

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