Halifax gives green light to ride-sharing, but regulations present a bit of a speed bump
Published Wednesday, September 23, 2020 9:54PM ADT Last Updated Wednesday, September 23, 2020 9:56PM ADT
HALIFAX -- Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are now permitted to operate in Halifax if they want to, but the regulations may keep them out.
Faisal Shehzad has had his taxi on the road for six months. News that Uber and Lyft can now drive into Halifax makes him worry that he and others will be driven out.
"It will be really hard for the people to make a living for their families," Shehzad said.
On Tuesday, Halifax Regional Council gave "transportation networking companies" the green light to operate with conditions.
Companies will have to pay an annual fee ranging between $2,000 for up to 10 vehicles operating and $25,000 for 100 or more cars.
Drivers have to have a minimum of three years' experience and pass a criminal and child abuse registry check.
"Hopefully the stage has been set by the city in terms of the regulations are similar to what they've been facing in other municipalities," said Paul MacKinnon of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission.
But neither Uber nor Lyft appear to be racing to get here.
Provincial laws mean drivers need a Class 4 licence instead of a Class 5, like regular drivers, and Uber is urging the province to change the rules.
"The fundamental difference is with a Class 4, you have to have a medical every five years until you're 65," said Dave Buffett of the HRM Taxi Association.
While the local taxi association doesn't support council's decision, its president thinks regulations will be a barrier.
"It's not just something that you can just decide on a Friday afternoon that, 'Hey, there's going to be a big night downtown, it's Halloween, so I'm going to sign up for Uber and be driving,'" Buffett said.
Crissy McDow, who already has her taxi licence, says she'd consider signing up.
"We're down to about one airport trip a week so it's possible we'd think about doing that," said McDow, who operates Lady Drive Her.
Shehzad is just hoping Uber parks the possibility for now.
He's already invested time and money into his cab -- and fears it's all for nothing.
In a statement, Lyft says it doesn't have expansion details to share at this time.
Uber says the bylaw is a positive step forward, but now the ball is squarely in the province's court.
The province says it recognizes there is more it can do to make it easier to do business in the province and they will have more to say on this soon.