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P.E.I. to permit ridesharing for December

- Reuters

The province has announced it will allow ridesharing companies like Uber or local startup Red Ride to operate in P.E.I.

The Department of Transportation stated that no legislative changes were needed in order to allow ride-sharing in P.E.I.

However, Transportation Minister Steven Myers said the province would be establishing a new class of licensing, specifically for rideshare drivers.

The license, known as a restricted Class 4 license, would be offered for rideshare and taxi drivers who only operate a smaller car.

Myers said in a weekend media statement it was important to ensure ride-share drivers meet some basic driving history requirements to ensure the safety of Islanders,

The restricted Class 4 taxicab license will require drivers to meet basic medical requirements and will require a review of the driving abstract.

Taxi drivers who only intend on driving a car will also be able to apply for the license.

A Class 4 license is normally reserved for taxis, ambulance or passenger bus operators. Drivers must take a special road test with a large passenger van to qualify for this license.

Charlottetown residents have complained in the past of a lack of taxis at late-night hours and following the arrival of some flights at the Charlottetown airport.

Matt MacLeod, co-owner of a local app-based ride-booking company RedRide, said that he is excited about the decision to allow ridesharing apps to come to effect in December.

"Honestly the sentiment is that we are really excited that there's finally that base line of whats required to operate a vehicle for (rideshare) service," said MacLeod.

"From what we see right now, it is a win-win for any kind of transportation industry because it opens up taxi stands to have more drivers because there aren't as many hurdles to jump through."

With the new restricted Class 4 license and ride-share license, MacLeod said having an additional layer of security and safety before drivers can get their Class 4 are net positives for transportation companies.

For his own company, he said that RedRide will check every drive against the national criminal database for any type of criminal history and vehicles registered with RedRide will meet a certain standard.

The next step for RedRide will be working with insurance companies on policies for itself and its drivers.

"We have interested drivers across the province, we have people applied who are through 90 per cent of the application process with a criminal history check done, driver abstract in order and now it is just a matter of them getting their medical and their Class 4 restrictive license and us getting insured," he said.

"The key to this is making sure that passengers and drivers are safe whenever they use the service."

"We've tried, we've done everything to [stop this], but how do you stop the government," said Linda Lannigan, owner of Dixon's Taxi in Montague.

Dixon's operates two taxis in Montague and one in Souris.

"They don't understand what they are doing."Lannigan said she was critical of the payment options for rideshare applications and how it would apply to rural Islanders.

For the eastern part of the Island, she said she has heard from locals their disagreement with rideshare applications making their way to the Island.

Ultimately for Lannigan, she isn't too worried about her customers staying loyal to her, but said her business will take a hit with the new allowances.

When asked if she would hire more drivers, Lannigan said she will not, saying that it is not a viable financial option for her.

Lannigan said she believes legal actions will be taken if her or other taxi companies become affected by the new allowances.

"What the hell are they doing? They are tearing small businesses apart? There have been taxi's companies, same as myself, who have been in business for twenty years, why would they want to put them out of business?," she said.

"It is a lot of bullshit with this, I don't know why Stephen Myers would do this. There is another election coming and I will do everything in my power to see he won't get in... I think he wants to give his friggin' his head a shake."

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