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Can local ride-hailing app Kater compete with Uber and Lyft?

Last Updated Mar 21, 2019 at 7:47 pm PDT

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The arrival of a new ride-hailing app in Vancouver has prompted concerns from someone who doesn’t think Kater can compete with Uber and Lyft.

The President of the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association is not expecting this to be much better than calling for a cab.

Ian Tostenson, who’s spent years trying to convince the B.C. government to allow more competition, says Kater’s nothing more than an extension of Vancouver’s existing taxi industry.

“I think it’s great this local company has done this, but it is not ride-sharing the way we’ve been talking to the government about ride-sharing,” he says. “We don’t want the government to sort of get lulled into, ‘Well, we’ve got ride-sharing going here.’ It’s not ride-sharing. Ride-sharing is supposed to be coming in the fall and we need to make sure the government acts on that promise.”

He’s also skeptical of rules set out by the province late last year which include a ban on surge pricing, something that’s often used by Uber to boost rates when demand is high.

“Pricing to reflect the consumer demand at the time is a good thing and having locked in prices I don’t think serves the consumer that well,” he says.

Riders coming in from other cities might end up still standing in long lines at the airport, he says, because many won’t have heard about local-app Kater, which could cause confusion

Kater’s soft launch on March 30th will also see drivers charging basic rates similar to taxi fares, but no surge pricing will be allowed during busy periods or on rainy days.