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Posts Tagged "ride"

8Jul

B.C. government says ride hailing services can operate starting Sept. 16

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The provincial government says its regulations for ride hailing will be in effect as of Sept. 16, 2019.


Seth Wenig / AP

Welcome to B.C., Uber and Lyft.

The ride hailing companies could be operating on B.C. roads as early as Sept. 16, according to the provincial government, which announced Monday its regulations on licensing and insurance for ride hailing will be in effect as of that date.

However, ride hailing companies would first need to apply for permission to operate through the Passenger Transportation Board; applications will be accepted beginning Sept. 3.

The PTB, an independent board, is also responsible for setting guidelines around supply, boundaries and fares.

“Our plan has made it possible for ride-hailing companies to apply to enter the market this fall, with vehicles on the road later this year, while ensuring the safety of passengers and promoting accessibility options in the industry,” said Transportation Minister Claire Trevena in a statement.

“British Columbians have been asking and waiting for these services after more than five years of delay by the former government. We took action to allow for the services people want and we’re delivering on that promise.”

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The Passenger Transportation Act regulations will require criminal record checks and driver record checks for any driver working with a ride-hailing company, and will introduce a new 30-cent per-trip fee and a $5,000 annual license fee.

The Motor Vehicle Act regulations will change how frequently cars must undergo inspections, will remove seatbelt exceptions for all for-hire vehicles, and will introduce side-entry accessible taxis.

Drivers working for ride hailing companies are still required to hold a Class 4 commercial licence, a requirement supported by B.C.’s police chiefs association but that was not recommended by a legislative committee tasked with making recommendations for ride hailing.

Alberta requires ride hailing drivers hold a Class 1, 2 or 4 licence, all of which are for professional drivers.

ICBC will also introduce a new insurance policy for drivers and vehicles operating with ride-hailing companies, effective this September. The policy is a blanket, per kilometre insurance product that provides third-party liability and accident coverage.

Drivers working with ride-hailing companies would be required to have their own basic vehicle insurance policy when they are not working.

It will also be left to the PTB to decide how many ride-hailing vehicles will be allowed to operate, what boundaries if any are applicable and what rates would be charged.

Uber has yet to respond to the news officially, though a spokesman said the company was reviewing the details announced Monday before discussing publicly how it might impact the company’s entry into B.C.

More to come.

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4Jun

Coquitlam mayor renews call for ride hailing after report of bad taxi ride | CBC News

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Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart is once again calling for an end to the taxi monopoly in the Tri-Cities area and urging the province to quickly allow ride hailing services like Lyft and Uber after a local woman recounted a negative cab ride that left her feeling like a captive.

The taxi ride happened more than a week ago, but it wasn’t until Stewart wrote a post on social media titled “Held hostage by a taxi” that it started to get attention.

Gayle Hunter was taking a routine taxi ride from her home to Birchland Elementary School, where she works. Hunter, who doesn’t drive and lives with a disability that limits her mobility, said she always pays $7 for the trip, after the tip.

But, in her account, the driver failed to start the meter, and as she approached the school, she told the driver that technically, if he didn’t start the meter, she didn’t need to pay.

Hunter claims she was fully intending to pay the usual rate, but her comment sent the driver into a shouting rage.

Then, she said he turned away from her destination, despite her protest, and began to drive her in the wrong direction.

“It was essentially an altercation that resulted in her being driven against her will for some period of time, and it really angered me,” said Stewart.

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said a local woman’s account of a bad taxi ride was just the latest in a long list of complaints he’s heard from people about the area’s taxis. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

“It frustrates me to no end, the length of time and the number of times we’ve had to speak with the Transportation Ministry, the Passenger Transportation Board and with this company about the behaviour of the drivers,” he said.

‘It was scary’

“Well it was, first of all, shocking, and then it was scary,” said Hunter. “It was scary. It was — and then it just made me really angry.”

Hunter said she phoned the company, Bel-Air Taxi, as the driver continued to refuse to take her to the school. She said she put the manager on speaker phone to have him tell the driver to take her to her intended destination — she says the driver continued shouting throughout.

Once Hunter got to Birchland elementary, she claims the troubling episode still didn’t end. She said the driver hurt her by aggressively ripping the cash out of her hand.

“When I got into the school, I was shaking, like I was a little — I went straight to the principal’s office,” she said. “Even today, I don’t feel safe getting into a cab.”

Gayle Hunter says she’s scared to take taxis after a bad ride in late May. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Hunter contacted Coquitlam RCMP to file a report, but doesn’t expect any criminal charges to arise from the incident. She also sent the company a written complaint, but said that she hasn’t heard anything back.

CBC News phoned and emailed Bel-Air Taxi for a comment, but nobody from the company replied to the request.

Manager Shawn Bowden told CTV News that he spoke to Hunter and apologized for the incident. He said the meter should have been turned on, but he added that, based on GPS records, the taxi didn’t deviate from the intended route to the school.

For both Stewart and Hunter, the incident is a reminder that, as a matter of safety and convenience, passengers need more choice when it comes to ride services in the Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody.


Do you have more to add to this story? Email [email protected]

Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker




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4Jun

‘This shouldn’t be happening’: Coquitlam cab ride ends with customer calling RCMP

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A Coquitlam woman with a disability said she recently had to call the RCMP after a cab ride that had her questioning her safety.

Gayle Hunter said she booked a Bel-Air Taxi online on May 24, for a ride to work at a school not far away.

“I have problems with my legs some days and I wasn’t feeling up to walking,” Hunter told CTV News Vancouver.

She said during the ride, the driver informed her he hadn’t turned the meter on.

“I wanted to kind of inform him if you don’t have that on, your customer doesn’t have to pay, so you know, something you should be aware of,” Hunter said.

She said the driver then started yelling and driving away from her route.

“I said where are you going? Like, where are you taking me? And he’s like, I don’t have to take you there, I can take you anywhere,” Hunter said.

Hunter said she insisted the driver turn around, and called the cab company. When they eventually arrived at the school, she said the driver grabbed the cash fare she had in her hand.

“My hand flies back, he’s got the bill, the change goes flying, and I yell, because it hurt,” Hunter said.

Hunter said she called the RCMP and contacted the city’s mayor, Richard Stewart, who posted about her complaint online. Stewart said it’s an example of why people need more options, such as ride-hailing.

“It is outrageous that a disabled person could be actually held in a cab,” Stewart told CTV News Vancouver.

“It scares me for other residents who might not have had the wherewithal she had,” Stewart said.

Bel-Air Taxi manager Shawn Bowden does not agree the driver deviated from the route.

He says their GPS records show the cab made a series of right hand turns to get to the school.

“It wasn’t taken on a wild goose chase or something like that, no. But maybe she just didn’t understand that,” Bowden said.

However, Bowden said the meter should have been on.

“I apologize for the service. And I have talked to the customer, and I have apologized, it shouldn’t have happened,” Bowden said.

Hunter said she has taken cabs since then, but the experience has made her more cautious.

“This shouldn’t be happening,” Hunter said.

The RCMP said charges are not being pursued in the case.


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4Jun

‘This shouldn’t be happening’: Port Coquitlam cab ride ends with customer calling RCMP

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A Port Coquitlam woman with a disability said she recently had to call the RCMP after a cab ride that had her questioning her safety.

Gayle Hunter said she booked a Bel-Air Taxi online on May 24, for a ride to work at a school not far away.

“I have problems with my legs some days and I wasn’t feeling up to walking,” Hunter told CTV News Vancouver.

She said during the ride, the driver informed her he hadn’t turned the meter on.

“I wanted to kind of inform him if you don’t have that on, your customer doesn’t have to pay, so you know, something you should be aware of,” Hunter said.

She said the driver then started yelling and driving away from her route.

“I said where are you going? Like, where are you taking me? And he’s like, I don’t have to take you there, I can take you anywhere,” Hunter said.

Hunter said she insisted the driver turn around, and called the cab company. When they eventually arrived at the school, she said the driver grabbed the cash fare she had in her hand.

“My hand flies back, he’s got the bill, the change goes flying, and I yell, because it hurt,” Hunter said.

Hunter said she called the RCMP and contacted Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart, who posted about her complaint online. Stewart said it’s an example of why people need more options, such as ride-hailing.

“It is outrageous that a disabled person could be actually held in a cab,” Stewart told CTV News Vancouver.

“It scares me for other residents who might not have had the wherewithal she had,” Stewart said.

Bel-Air Taxi manager Shawn Bowden does not agree the driver deviated from the route.

He says their GPS records show the cab made a series of right hand turns to get to the school.

“It wasn’t taken on a wild goose chase or something like that, no. But maybe she just didn’t understand that,” Bowden said.

However, Bowden said the meter should have been on.

“I apologize for the service. And I have talked to the customer, and I have apologized, it shouldn’t have happened,” Bowden said.

Hunter said she has taken cabs since then, but the experience has made her more cautious.

“This shouldn’t be happening,” Hunter said.

The RCMP said charges are not being pursued in the case.


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25Apr

North Vancouver doctor’s painful ambulance ride led to ketamine on board

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Paramedic Specialist Ryan Stefani holds ketamine, shown here ready to be used as a nose spray. In a recent paramedic trial, used intranasally, the drug reduced patient pain significantly. Photo: Courtesy of BCEHS


PNG

Gary Andolfatto spent four hours hobbling nine kilometres on one leg over snowy forest trails, using his bike as a crutch, after breaking his leg four years ago in a cycling mishap.

When Andolfatto, an emergency room doctor at Lions Gate Hospital, was discovered by Lynn Canyon park rangers and loaded into an ambulance, his immediate need was pain control.

Andolfatto was shocked when the paramedic riding in the back with him could only offer nitrous oxide, commonly referred to as laughing gas.

“He told me how frustrating it was that it is all primary care paramedics are permitted to give since they aren’t trained or permitted to inject drugs or give opioids,” said Andolfatto.

“I was ashamed, and felt so humbled that I didn’t realize what their limitations were and how bad it must be for them and their patients in serious pain. It really struck a chord and it gave me the impetus to do something that would be a game changer. Maybe I was meant to break my leg that day.”


Dr. Gary Andolfatto, ketamine researcher and emergency room physician at Lions Gate Hospital.

Some innovators jot down the kernels for good ideas on napkins. While lying on a stretcher, with a broken left femur, Andolfatto conceived a research study that would involve paramedics spraying low doses of ketamine — a non-opioid, but still a controlled substance — into the nostrils of patients.

Unlike opioids like fentanyl, ketamine doesn’t suppress respiration so it is considered much safer.

“With low-dose ketamine, the risk of doing serious harm is zero,” said Andolfatto. “There are many reasons why it makes sense for this to be used more widely in an ambulance setting. On the other hand, laughing gas (delivered through a mask) requires a certain amount of co-operation (inhalation) from patients.”

Laughing gas is also not as effective as ketamine for controlling pain, added Andolfatto.

The research Andolfatto envisioned that day was recently published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Now primary and advanced care paramedics with B.C. Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) are enthusiastically starting to deliver intranasal ketamine. Critical care paramedics with advanced training have been using intravenous ketamine on patients since 2008 but 70 per cent of the more than 4,000 paramedics in B.C. are at the primary care level and not permitted to do so.

The research led by Andolfatto has paved the way for use of a drug that is economical ($10 a dose), effective, safe and delivered quickly without needles, said Joe Acker, director of clinical and professional practice at BCEHS.

But before ketamine can be widely used by paramedics the provincial government will have to change statutes pertaining to the scope of practice of primary care paramedics as it is a controlled substance, said Acker. Health Canada will also have to give its approval.

BCEHS also has some challenging logistical issues to work on to prevent theft of ketamine by patients, paramedics or others. Biometric safes for storage and audits — similar to what hospitals have done to prevent drug diversion — are two of the strategies being implemented. 

“The onus is now on us to do our due diligence,” Acker said, adding that paramedics have for too long been hampered when it comes to relieving pain experienced. In rural areas, such transports may take hours and when paramedics witness such pain, it can be traumatizing, “opening huge moral wounds for paramedics frustrated that they cannot offer more.”

The study involved 120 patients who were transferred by ambulance to Surrey Memorial Hospital between November 2017 and May 2018. Patients were randomized to receive either a ketamine nasal spray or a placebo of saline solution. Those who got ketamine, along with nitrous oxide, reported having a significant reduction in pain after 15 minutes. A majority of patients who got ketamine said they felt dizziness and a feeling of unreality, but their levels of comfort were higher than those who received a placebo spray into the nostrils.

“We now have the science to show us that it can be used effectively and safely by primary care paramedics,” Andolfatto said. “Now it’s time to allow primary care paramedics to start using it and doing the quality assurance piece to ensure it provides a real benefit, is financially feasible and won’t potentially be abused.”

The $26,000 study involved researchers from UBC, Lions Gate Hospital, Surrey Memorial Hospital, and BCEHS. It was funded by the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and the B.C. Emergency Medicine Network.

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Twitter: @MedicineMatters




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2Apr

Eby’s bumpy, make-it-up-as-you-go-along ride on challenging ICBC file

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VICTORIA — Portrait of a cabinet minister making things up as he goes along:

Feb. 7: David Eby, wearing his cabinet minister for ICBC hat, reacts to news the government-owned auto insurance company missed its financial target for the first full year under the NDP.

ICBC forecast a loss of $684 million. Instead it will lose $1.18 billion, not much less than the $1.296 billon it lost in the financial year shared with the departed B.C. Liberal government.

Not to worry says Eby, still wedded to the belief that ICBC can be put on a break-even footing by 2020.

He’s already consulting with “stakeholders” on a new way to rein in legal and court costs: “The big one we’re concerned about are the cost of expert reports.”

Feb. 11: Eby, now wearing his attorney-general’s hat, signs a cabinet order rewriting the rules for court cases involving motor vehicle accident claims.

“We’re reforming the Supreme Court civil rules to limit the number of experts and expert reports allowed in certain cases,” he tells reporters.

The new limits are expected to deliver “in excess of $400 million” in savings for ICBC, starting that very day, which is when the new rules take effect.

Supreme Court rules are supposed to be vetted by a committee of lawyers and judges, jointly appointed by Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson and the attorney-general.

How involved was the committee in these changes?

Eby cites “discussions” with “a multi-stakeholder group” and “ministry staff.” But he never says whether these changes were approved in advance by the rules committee or to what extent the committee was even consulted.

Later that day the Trial Lawyers Association comes out and says what Eby won’t say, namely that the attorney-general pushed through the rule changes unilaterally.

“He is doing so despite a protest from the independent rules committee,” reports Ian Mulgrew in The Vancouver Sun.

Feb. 27: It has taken more than two weeks, but the attorney-general finally admits the trial lawyers were correct about the rule changes.

“I would like to clarify the process that was followed in relation to these changes,” reads the statement put out by his office.

He goes on to say the rules committee was “engaged” before the changes were announced. And it did offer “feedback,” which Eby claims to “very much appreciated.”

However: “The rules committee did not recommend these changes and was not asked to approve these changes. These changes were a decision made by government.”

Meaning government in the person of David Eby, an attorney-general who gets to preside over a unilateral rewrite of the court rules to suit the minister for ICBC, who is, of course, one and the same.

And lest there be any doubt on the part of the committee or anyone else, “government will continue its work on additional changes to the rules of court,” says Eby.

March 25: Eby announces via press release that he is pulling back on two provisions in the edict on the use of experts.

The new limits won’t apply to cases scheduled to go to court before the end of this calendar year. Litigants who incurred costs for experts before the Feb. 11 change of rules will be permitted to recover those costs.

All in the name of fairness and avoiding “unintended consequences” according to a followup statement from the ministry of the Attorney-General.

As for the financial consequences for ICBC, the ministry estimates the pullback will knock some $20 million off the projected savings of $400 million.

March 29: Another day, another amendment to the regulations regarding ICBC claims. There’s now more leeway for claimants to recover medical, rehabilitation, disability and other costs, including funeral expenses and death benefits.

“The new (60-day) limit gives people a reasonable amount of time to submit their receipts while ensuring ICBC receives the information it needs to accurately assess the severity of claims, provide additional supports to injured people as needed and better forecast future costs,” says the statement from Eby’s ministry.

This just two days before the new claims and litigation regime takes effect.

April 1: “The key for me is we’ve got to make it to April 1,” said Eby back in February, referring to the date he set last year for the big changeover on ICBC claims.

Those changes, limiting payouts for injuries, steering claims to arbitration and capping costs for ones that go to court, were expected to save $1 billion, even without the added limits on use of experts.

Now the big day is here and the trial lawyers mark the occasion by confirming they will challenge the new regime on constitutional grounds.

All of which recalls something else Eby said back when he was announcing the new limits on the use of experts and predicting savings of $400 million or more.

“The reality is that it will depend very much on the reception of the courts and the approach of lawyers to this,” he said.

“Our hope is that the bench and the bar support the intent of these rules, understand why we’re doing this, and that we do realize these savings.”

Against those hopes, there is Eby’s record, including a lack of consultations, arbitrary rule-making, and changes at the last minute.

Not the approach that most cabinet ministers would choose if they needed co-operation from the bar and bench to make the numbers work.

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19Nov

Vaughn Palmer: B.C. bill just delays ride hailing even more

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VICTORIA — After taking every opportunity to study, consult and otherwise delay, the New Democrats finally introduced the legislation Monday for a “made-in-B.C.” version of ride hailing.

Or so they said.  On closer reading, the legislation turned out to be mainly a front for further considerations, consultations, regulatory dodges and delays.

Bill 55, the Passenger Transportation Amendment Act, amends eight pieces of legislation, runs to some 46 pages and dozens of clauses, sub clauses and explanatory notes.

But the bottom line on the entire package emerged during the technical briefing when reporters tried to nail down precisely when British Columbians will enjoy the same ride-hailing services that are already in place elsewhere on the continent.

The New Democrats have suggested for some time that things should be ready in late 2019. But when reporters pressed the point, they learned maybe, maybe not. Can’t make any promises. Might be 2020.

The legislative text starts on a puckish note with the New Democrats choosing to redefine the two most common terms associated with the ride-hailing controversy.

No longer shall we refer to taxis or ride-hailing vehicles. Henceforth both are to be known as passenger-directed vehicles or PDVs.

As for the commonplace ride-hailing app, accessed on a smartphone, that is now defined in law as a transportation network service, or TNS.

With terms out of the way, the legislation moves to greatly strengthen the regulator of the aforementioned TNSs and PDVs, the Passenger Transportation Board.

“The board will expand its role in receiving applications and setting out terms and conditions of licences, including taxis, ride-hailing, and passenger-directed vehicles,” according to the briefing notes.

“The board will have authority to determine the rates charged to passengers, as well as the supply and operating area of vehicles (for) transportation network services.”

Supposedly the board will gather the necessary data on the supply of vehicles within a given operating area and be guided by considerations like “public need” and “sound economic conditions.”

But that could prove to be a lengthy, contentious and ultimately subjective determination.

Moreover, the cabinet itself will have a hand in shaping the process. The board chair and members will all be NDP appointees. Perish the thought that well-connected New Democrats would already be angling for one of those board appointments.

Plus the cabinet has reserved for itself rules of practice and procedure for the board, and to place limits on its ability to recover costs for its regulatory processes. Indeed, the legislation assigns broad-brush regulatory powers to the cabinet to be determined after the fact — setting fees, defining terms, delegating powers and specifying geographic areas and classes of vehicles.

Another undefined consideration is a special fee, to be charged per trip, to fund accessibility options for people with disabilities. At this point, the size of the charge is anyone’s guess.

From the briefing notes:  “With these legislative changes, government expects applications from ride-hailing companies wanting to enter the market will be submitted to the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) by fall 2019.”

Except that there still is the not-small matter of the necessary insurance for any new ride-hailing service.

The legislation enlists the services of the Insurance Corp. of B.C. in developing such a product. But it adds little in the way of specifics, nor does it establish a hard and fast deadline for implementation.

While ICBC is said to be already working on such a product, the technical briefing shed no light on how far along it has got.

In fairness to the folks at the government-owned auto insurance company, they have some other things on their plate — like an NDP-ordered top to bottom makeover of rates, rate structures, coverage, payouts and the like.

Supposedly ICBC will have something ready on the ride-hailing front his time next year, after, natch, the usual back and forth with government and those in the business.

Once approved by ICBC, it will then have to be approved by the independent B.C. Utilities Commission, before it can be offered to any would-be operator seeking to get into the ride hailing business in B.C.

Given all those uncertainties, the New Democrats are making no promises about this thing being operational before 2020.

Still, they are thinking ahead in one respect. Tucked inside the enabling legislation is a commitment to strike a committee of the legislature in early 2022, following the next provincial election.

Its mandate: “Review these changes to make sure the government is on the right track with modern, safe taxi and ride-hailing service.”

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Having delayed the thing through most of their first term of government, the New Democrats are now promising to revisit it in a hoped-for second term.

All by way of reinforcing the NDP line that this ride-hailing thing needs to be approached with supreme caution.

Sure, they wasted no time launching a half-baked speculation tax and in stacking the deck in favour of electoral change.

But implementation of a service that is already in place in comparable jurisdictions all over the world?  Some things just can’t be rushed.

Hence another round of stalling and excuse making, all in the name of crafting a Made-in-B.C. solution to a problem that has already been solved pretty much everywhere else.

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