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Greater Victoria, BC News

ARTICLE

Date ArticleType
5/1/2016 Published Article
Uber – the Result of Too Much Regulation?

The current discussion about allowing Uber into B.C. is likely more about too much regulation than it is about ridesharing. In our capitalist system, a free market economy will use supply and demand to set pricing and ensure that consumers receive the best value. It appears to me that the commercial passenger transportation market is being hampered by excessive regulation, which increases costs and paves the road for cost-cutting innovators such as Uber and Lyft.

If the appeal for ridesharing is more about reduced prices, what will happen once it is regulated? Ridesharing operators will need licenses, vehicle-safety inspections, specialized driver training, insurance, etc., which will either increase costs or move the service underground. If ridesharing operators are not required to be licenced, have their vehicles inspected, etc., then any ridesharing regulation will work against a fair and competitive environment within the commercial passenger transportation industry.

Do we even need regulation? Presently, B.C. government regulates the commercial passenger transportation industry - including commercial ridesharing companies, operators and drivers - to ensure passenger safety and protection. Municipalities also have a level of involvement, including offsetting expenses related to the commercial use of vehicles on their roads.

I think we do need regulations, because we value consumer protection and road safety in our society. Given that some regulation is needed, what level of regulatory oversight do we want? The current licensing regime for taxis has developed over time to protect customers and ensure public safety. Is it now excessive? Are we prepared to accept a lower level of safety and protection in exchange for lower costs? Are we okay with commercial traffic having a free ride on our roads?

As we work towards answering these questions, we need to keep top of mind that a well-designed and effectively enforced regulatory system contributes to the overall economy by protecting consumers and enabling fair competition.

In short, our target is a regulatory regime that treats all service providers equally.

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Bruce Carter, CEO of Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce

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