Vancouver considering raising rideshare fees

Late night party-goers might be disappointed to hear that Vancouver city council wants to pull more money from their wallets, as it’s considering a proposal to double some fees on rideshare services during late night hours in the downtown core.

“Okay come on. This is enough,” said Jane Talbot, the president and CEO of Downtown Van, the local business improvement association.

With the cost of living at an all-time high, many groups are against of the idea of paying more for ridesharing services.

“I think increasing these fees could easily entice people to just stay at home. Or not bother. And we’re still coming out of the pandemic. We’re still recovering economically. And we need people to come back downtown,” said Talbot.

The city is looking into a proposal that would double the service fee from 30 cents to 60 cents by 2025 as an effort to manage congestion and curb traffic in the downtown area during peak hours.

“It’s a pretty modest fee proposal. It’s not even a couple of bucks,” said Coun. Pete Fry.

The initiative is expected to generate about $3 million in incremental revenue over the next two years.

“There’s more vehicles on the road, and that includes Uber drivers who are cruising around and looking for a fare. It does impact the traffic for all the road users and it also contributes to wear and tear on the roads and the need for more maintenance and that sort of thing,” said Fry.

Steve Sullivan, the CEO of Mothers against Drunk Driving Canada, argues otherwise.

“I’m not sure if making it more expensive to take rideshare programs is going to have less congestion if more people are going to decide to drive their own cars downtown. I think there’s sort of a circle effect to that,” he said.

He added that this could potentially lead to more people willing to drive under the influence to save money.

“If you’re doing one ride then maybe it’s not a big deal, but if you’re someone who entertains it a lot, you’re also using Uber for work and you’re going downtown to be with friends that adds up,” Sullivan said.

“And I think any kind of increase like that has to be seriously weighed against the potential cost of when people make the wrong decisions,” he continued.

For its part, Uber said this could mean tens of thousands of fewer trips, and added that Vancouver already has the highest ride-hailing fees in Canada.

The city is still weeks away from voting on the proposal and said it’s open to feedback from the public.

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