BRITISH COLUMBIA

Uber Vancouver: Does It Have A Future In The City?

10/07/2014 05:09 EDT | Updated 10/07/2014 05:59 EDT
David Ramos via Getty Images
BARCELONA, SPAIN - JULY 01: In this photo illustration, the new smart phone app 'Uber' logo is displayed on a mobile phone next to a taxi on July 1, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. Taxi drivers in main cities strike over unlicensed car-halling services. Drivers say that is a lack of regulation behind the new app. (Photo Illustration by David Ramos/Getty Images)

The future of Uber in Vancouver is once again uncertain.

The ride share service has been put under a six-month moratorium by the City of Vancouver, reports Global News.

City council will use that time to explore changes to the city's taxi licensing, says CBC News.

Uber, a popular app that connects unregulated drivers and their cars with people who need a ride, has drawn criticism from local cab companies. Founded in 2009, Uber is currently in 45 countries and over 200 cities.

“There’s a lot of things that we offer that Uber doesn't offer,” Kulwant Sahota, Yellow Cab president and spokesman for the Vancouver Taxi Association, told Global. “One of the reasons is safety. The drivers, they say they’re checked, are they being checked?”

The San Francisco-based company quietly landed in Vancouver in the summer of 2012, but was shut down a few months later by B.C.'s Passenger Transportation Board (PTB), reported the Georgia Straight at the time.

The company needed to abide by the province's rule that all limousine rides charge a minimum of $75, said the PTB.

In spite of the current moratorium, three job postings for Vancouver are up on Uber's site: one for a general manager, a marketing manager, and an operations and logistics manager.

"This role means you are responsible for doing everything (and anything) that is related to growing Uber in your city," states the marketing manager posting. 'We won’t stop until all of Vancouver is riding Uber."

The company is trying to hop around its obstacles and gather support right from the future consumers, Lindsay Meredith, a marketing strategy professor at SFU, told CBC.

"You might just get enough people start pressuring the politicians, saying, 'We've had it with this taxi stuff, this looks like the next generation, looks like it'll serve our needs,'" he said.

But even if cabbies are considering signing up as Uber drivers, it comes with a big risk: their jobs.

Taxi drivers who join Uber are breaking the conditions of the PTB's licence conditions, North Shore Taxi’s general manager Gurdip Sahota told The Province. He said the company is getting written confirmations from their drivers that they have not teamed up with Uber.

But it's still a fact that cabs are hard to come by in Vancouver.

One reason is a Vancouver bylaw that keeps the number of permanent taxis at 588, Canadian Business reported in March.

Dan Hara of economics firm Hara Associates told the magazine that the city's four cab companies work to keep that number from increasing because it would lessen the value of the existing taxi licenses — which cost double those of Toronto and Montreal.

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