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Uber and Lyft approved in Lower Mainland

Last Updated Jan 23, 2020 at 9:24 pm PST

An Uber vehicle picking up a passenger in Vancouver. (Courtesy Uber)

Uber and Lyft finally get the green light to operate in Metro Vancouver

The Passenger Transportation Board approved the ride-hailing companies for the Lower Mainland and Whistler

Both companies will still need some approvals before they're able to pick people up

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The long-awaited approval of popular ride-hailing apps Uber and Lyft has finally arrived in B.C.

Demand has been high, especially in Metro Vancouver, where people who’ve already downloaded these apps have been complaining about a lack of cab service for years.

The Passenger Transportation Board approved the ride-hailing companies for the Lower Mainland and Whistler on Thursday.

“The PTB’s approval is one of the final steps before Uber is able to start providing reliable, safe, affordable rides in Metro Vancouver. We hope to launch very soon, once we have obtained a business licence from the City of Vancouver and purchased insurance from ICBC,” says Michael van Hemmen, head of Uber in Western Canada.

Both ride-hailing companies had business licences approved for the City of Vancouver the same day, and ICBC has already issued their insurance.

“We’re working closely with municipalities to ensure we have our business licenses in place to begin operating. Once those are approved, we plan to announce our initial operating area, give our inaugural ride, and launch our service. We can’t wait to see the new ways in which Vancouverites explore their city once they have a Lyft ride at their fingertips,” says Peter Lukomskyj, Lyft’s general manager for B.C.

The Tofino-based Whistle Ride was the first to have its proposal approved, but unlike Uber and Lyft, it’s not expected to be operational before next month. Two other ride-hailing companies, Kater and ReRyde were denied access by the PTB.

Minister of Transporation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena says the PTB is reviewing 29 applications for ride-hailing companies, six so far have been processed.

“Over the last two years, our government has been diligent in developing a framework that puts passenger safety first, and we remained steadfast against pressures to abandon the safety measures we put in place. Road users can now be confident that B.C.’s ride-hailing services will comply with some of the highest safety standards in North America,” she says, adding the province will closely monitor fleet sizes and may set minimum pricing to prevent traffic congestion.

Trevena also calls out the previous governments for not bringing in the ride-hailing companies sooner.

RELATED: ‘A complete failure’: Liberal MLA blasts B.C. NDP for ‘broken promises’ on ride-hailing

“I know people are frustrated. I know people wanted it immediately. I was as frustrated as everyone in the time it seemed to be taking, but I think in the end, people in B.C. can feel comfortable in what they’ll be getting,” she says.

Both the NDP and former Liberal governments have been criticized for waiting too long to approve ride-hailing since people starting asking for it in 2012.

The anticipated approval comes a month after a failed promise to have ride-hailing up and running by the holidays, and after the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation voted to let ride-hailing operators pick up and drop off customers across Metro Vancouver, without forcing each municipality to approve a separate licence.

With files from Hana Mae Nassar