Prince Rupert’s Skeena Taxi manager unconcerned by B.C.’s ride hailing regulations

Skeena Taxi and ride hailing services have differences in operating models

Skeena Taxi’s manager isn’t sweating the new regulations coming into effect in September, which will allow ride hailing service such as Uber and Lyft to apply for licence applications in B.C.

“We are not trying to block any competition, we just want a level playing field. That’s what we said since day one,” Bill Langthorne, Skeena Taxi manager and shareholder since 1986, said.

WEB POLL: Would you like to see ride hailing services come to Kaien Island?

The new regulations require transportation network companies to pay $5,000 for annual licence fees, and 30 cents per ride that are not accessible to the passengers with mobility issues.

Drivers must also possess a Class 4 licence. A new ICBC insurance category for ride hailing vehicles is in the works and the Passenger Transportation Board will set rates for each region, as it does with taxi services.

Skeena Taxi is part of the BC Taxi Association for 40 years, representing companies outside the lower mainland. On Tuesday, July 9, consultations were held in Prince Rupert with Langthorne and representatives from the Transportation Board present.

READ MORE: B.C. ride hailing licence fees set, applications accepted in September

“Of course business will go down,” Langthorne said. “It’s more people eating from the same source of pie. We survived many many changes in the industry, we’ll remain viable and adjust. We’ve been operating for 53 years, 24-7 and never closed for one hour.”

“I’m 76 years old and if I start worrying at this point in my life I may as well give up. There used to be 13 cab companies and they all amalgamated and joined with Skeena which pays for all their fees so they can make a living,” Langthorne said.

Differences in style

Skeena taxi has 45 licences owned by the company to keep the costs down for the drivers so they can make a living said Langthorne, who added that the company has been debt-free for the 30 years he has been managing. Drivers can then buy shares from a shareholder which allows them to operate a taxi.

Skeena Taxi also has one wheelchair-accessible vehicle that is subsidized by the company. Recently they had acquired one more licence for a disability vehicle, but have not yet found someone willing to invest and purchase it.

Langthorne says their business is operated to suit the needs of the clients and workers on the island and is not sure ride hailing services are ready to do the same.

“Ride hailing have not applied for a single accessible vehicle because they know operating it is detrimental to business and they won’t find investors. There is also no local employment on the dispatching side,” said Langthorne.

“But as long as Uber and Lyft are protecting their employers then great. I hope they treat them well but I don’t know how they are going to police it.”

READ MORE: Uber and Lyft drivers strike across the U.S.

Uber and Lyft have been under fire from employees everywhere who say they are treated like contractors rather than employees.

The 125 drivers and seven office employees, including dispatchers, that work at Skeena Taxi are all unionized. Langthorne said they are not allowed to work more than 66.5 hours and must take a mandatory day off per week, with employees taking turn during the morning and night shifts. This stands in contrast to ride hailing services, where workers set their own unregulated hours.

“A car is ready to go sitting on the road all the time. Emergencies, we’re there. Someone’s pregnant in the middle of the night, we’re there,” Langthorne said.



Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
Jenna Cocullo 
Send Jenna email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Sports Briefs: Busy weekend ahead on the trails and the links

Summer winds down with a pair of competitions

Australian gold mining giant acquires Red Chris mine

Newcrest now owns 70 per cent of the mine south of Iskut and operatorship

Haida Gwaii storm causes B.C. ferry delay

Skidegate to Prince Rupert route affected

Prince Rupert Rampage 2019-20 season schedule released

Trio of games against Terrace River Kings plus showdowns against new teams highlight the season

Council briefs: Gurney marks one year as Lester Centre’s manager, marina revenues down

Council supports Métis Awareness week but has concern over raising Infinity Flag

Captain, all-star, MVP, and all about the team

Brittanne O’Connor’s drive to create Prince Rupert’s own women’s team has led to success and inspiration

The Northern View announces inaugural Tyee Fishing Derby in Prince Rupert

More than $7,000 up for grabs for biggest legal salmon and halibut

The Northern View 2019 Readers Choice

It’s that time of year again! Vote online or at the Prince Rupert office before noon on Aug. 30

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

Pregnant teachers fight to change WorkSafeBC compensation rules

Agency does not recognize risk to unborn babies when mother catches illness from work

Five hedgehogs quickly adopted after being left at BC SPCA

Lucky new owners picked up their pets from Maple Ridge branch on Aug. 20

B.C. cricket players get interrupted by racist remark

Community has had protocols in place for years to respond to prejudice

Most Read