The City of Fernie is warning residents about unlicensed ridesharing services. This came after the City received multiple complaints about a man in a private vehicle soliciting pedestrians and offering transportation.
Currently, British Columbia’s licensing regulations are directed by the British Columbia Transportation Board, which regulates the passenger transportation industry. Council is concerned over the safety risks surrounding unlicensed drivers, such as inadequate commercial insurance, lack of vehicle inspections and not meeting safety standards. Licensed drivers must also have a background check and meet higher medical standards.
“These regulations are in place to protect public safety and anyone who may be approached by a private vehicle offering this service should consider the risks. Council is issuing this warning so that the public is forewarned and any unlicensed drivers offering this service are aware of the potential serious consequences of ignoring regulations,” said Mayor Mary Giuliano
Council is not the only party concerned over unlicensed transportation services in Fernie. Karl Leathley is a driver for Kootenay Taxi and encourages people to use only licensed services for their own safety.
“I know that Kootenay Taxi has to comply with all sorts of provincial regulations, like public liability insurance, security checks, business license,” said Leathley.
“They don’t have any insurance and if he does get into an accident, you won’t be covered.”
Leathley is also concerned over the personal risks of the safety of young women, as unlicensed transportation services can be used to prey on people in need. The Fernie Women’s Resource Centre shares his concern and has released safety tips for women accepting rides home.
There are seven tips the Women’s Resouce Centre recommends following, including making sure the service is legitimate, sitting in the back seat, and trusting your instincts.
“If you get into a cab and get an uneasy feeling, have the driver drop you off at a public place instead of your home. If it is an emergency, get out of the cab and call 911,” said their release.
Leathley also warns of getting into an unmarked cab and urges people to only use a service that they have called for and arranged in advance.
“Only get into a cab if you’ve called for it. There are two types of taxis. There is one where you drive around and wait to be hailed, and there is one where you can’t just pickup off the street. You have to be telephoned and booked. If a car comes up alongside you and says do you need a ride, don’t get in,” he said.
Anyone who sees unlicensed transportation operators is encouraged to report the operators to the Passenger Transportation Board or to the RCMP. For more information on the safety tips from the Fernie Women’s Resource Centre, visit their office at 1592 10th Ave. or their website at Ferniewomenscentre.com.