VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Ride-hailing veteran Uber has announced it has plans to operate in the Lower Mainland.
In a tweet on Wednesday, the company said it will be filing an application with B.C.’s independent Passenger Transportation Board come September. The Transportation Ministry has set Sept. 3 as the date all ride-hailing companies can apply to enter the market, and recently announced governing regulations.
#Vancouver, we’re one step closer to a ridesharing reality. Thank you to the hundreds of thousands who’ve called out for safe and reliable rides in #BritishColumbia. See you soon!pic.twitter.com/HS2xk15NDO
— Uber Canada (@Uber_Canada) August 28, 2019
The new policies will allow companies to operate a limitless number of vehicles beyond the geographical boundaries currently in place for the taxi industry. They will also be required to charge a minimum “floor rate” between $3.25 and $3.95, similar to rates charged by taxis.
Ride-hailing advocate Ian Tostenson with Ridesharing Now and the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association says he hopes with Uber’s entry into the market, people will be more inclined to go out on a Friday or Saturday night.
“This just absolutely creates certainty, knowing that if I say I’m going to meet you at a restaurant at 8 o’clock then I’ll be able to get there, and if I want to get home I can get home,” Tostenson says. “That’s a big one for our customers.”
He says right now, getting a ride is an ordeal and while he was encouraged with Lyft coming, Uber will ensure competition.
“It’s really good news, it gets it started, and it opens the door for more discussions with the government to see how we can service the rest of B.C.”
Lyft announced earlier this month that it would be in operation in Vancouver by the end of the year. Uber has not yet announced its expected start date, but says it hopes to be ready for the holiday season.
But what about the rest of B.C.?
While many in Metro Vancouver are looking forward to booking an Uber or Lyft, that option won’t be there for people throughout the province.
B.C. Liberal MLA Jas Johal says that won’t be solved unless the Class 4 license requirement is removed.
“That’s what’s shocking about this. This is a great announcement for people living in Metro Vancouver and particularly Vancouver proper, but if you’re living in the suburbs, living in 250, this is not an announcement that’s going to impact your life immediately.”
The B.C. rules require ride-hailing drivers to have a Class 4 license, something that’s not in place in other areas where Uber and Lyft operate. And Johal says that means much of the province will be left out.
“People in Abbotsford, Chilliwack, outer parts of Surrey – I don’t think you’re going to see much ride-hailing services being provided in those areas. And you can forget about the Kamloops and Kelownas, or Kitimats or Castlegars or even Victoria having ride-hailing on day one.”
Johal feels that until that requirement is removed, ride-hailing firms will struggle to operate outside of the urban core.
With files from the Canadian Press.