An organization representing the province’s taxi companies says it welcomes competition from ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, but only if safety standards are maintained.
The Saskatchewan Taxi Cab Association was responding to the provincial speech from the throne, which indicated Premier Brad Wall’s government would make introducing ride-sharing a priority to help curb drunk driving.
“If Uber or other TNCs (Transportation Network Companies) can come in and meet those standards, it will only help us create a better taxi industry for ourselves and step up our game as well,” STCA spokesperson Shondra Boire told 650 CKOM.
She said there’s concern municipalities could create different rules for ride-sharing companies, taking away a “level playing field” for taxi drivers.
Boire pointed to rules surrounding in-car cameras, annual inspections and police background checks as important safety measures which need to be applied across the board.
She did applaud the government’s promise to create more affordable insurance options for ride-sharing services, saying it could help the STCA in their push to start a “flex fleet” of part-time cab drivers.
“That is something that would work for us,” Boire said.
STCA is also calling on the province to conduct a full review of their legislation related to taxis and ride-sharing, urging the government to “avoid mistakes” made in other provinces like Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.
Mayors support government changes
The speech from the throne also noted the government would encourage municipalities to welcome ride-sharing services into their communities, a notion the mayors of Saskatchewan’s largest cities seem to support.
In an interview with 650 CKOM, Saskatoon mayor Charlie Clark said city council had been working on the possibility of allowing ride-sharing for well over a year. However, they’ve been limited by SGI’s insurance rules.
“It’s good that they’re making that move, and we’ll sort out the details here in Saskatoon,” he said.
Clark said he had been fielding questions from residents on when he would allow ride-sharing programs in the city, having to repeatedly tell them the power rested with the province.
In Regina, Mayor Michael Fougere was also supportive of the government’s position on ride sharing.
He said the proposed rule changes could mean it’s only a matter of time before companies like Uber and Lyft get the green light in the provincial capital.
“We will pursue this in Regina for sure. We want to do that,” he said.
“Now that they’re clearing a way to do that we’ll have a discussion on the floor of council and we’ll likely go forward. I think we have strong support on council to do that.”
Fougere noted he hasn’t heard much opposition to the notion of ride-sharing in conversations with residents.
—With files from 980 CJME’s Kevin Martel.