(Black Press file photo)                                (Black Press file photo).

(Black Press file photo) (Black Press file photo).

Taxi companies ask B.C. court to stay ride-hailing approval pending judicial review

Lawyer says passenger transportation board didn’t adequately consider economic impact for cab drivers

A lawyer for the Vancouver Taxi Association says an uneven playing field was used by an independent board in B.C. to allow the operation of ride-hailing companies.

David Penner wants the B.C. Supreme Court to stay approvals granted by the Passenger Transportation Board to Uber and Lyft to operate in Metro Vancouver pending a judicial review of those decisions.

He argued in court on Tuesday that the board failed to adequately consider the economic impact of the decision and didn’t give the taxi companies the opportunity for a meaningful response.

Lawyers for Uber and the board have yet to respond in court.

Uber and Lyft drivers hit the road almost two weeks ago, following the long-awaited approval on Jan. 23 of their licences by the board.

Penner argues there will be significant or irreparable harm caused to taxi drivers if the ride-hailing companies are allowed to continue picking up passengers before dates can be set for the judicial review, which could take months.

It is contrary to the public interest to allow an unlimited number of ride-hailing vehicles on the road with unregulated prices when the taxi industry faces limits to its fleet size, operating areas and prices set by the board.

“So the taxi companies, in so far as they are set to compete with Uber and Lyft, are competing on an uneven playing field,” Penner told the court.

“And there is not the ability for taxi companies in this process to challenge whether or not the Uber and Lyft business models are viable.”

The taxi companies were granted two weeks to submit responses to thousands of pages of documents, many of which were redacted, and there were no oral hearings or opportunities for cross-examination, he said.

READ MORE: Surrey bylaw’s tactics with Uber drivers deemed ‘entrapment’ and ‘completely wrong’

Uber and Lyft rely on business models that involve operating on significant losses until they “destroy” their competition, and there’s no guarantee of a healthy passenger transportation industry beyond that, Penner argued.

The Canadian Press

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