Wait for ride hailing continues in northern B.C.

The next time you visit Vancouver, you'll likely be able to hail an Uber ride, but the wait for services continues in the Peace region and Northern Rockies.

On Thursday, the Passenger Transportation Board approved both Uber and Lyft to operate in the Lower Mainland and Whistler. It rejected an application from Kater Technologies, which intended to operate in all regions of B.C., including the north.

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Michael van Hemmen, Uber’s Head of Western Canada, said he expects his company to launch services in the “next few days” after the company receives a business licence from the City of Vancouver and final authorization from ICBC. He declined to share how many drivers Uber has recruited to date in B.C.

A representative from Lyft said the company would not be doing interviews just yet. But Lyft’s general manager in B.C., Peter Lukomskyj, said his company is “thrilled” that it’s received the approval.

In its decision against Kater, the Board concluded the Vancouver-based company would not be capable of providing the service.

“The Board notes that the experience of the [chief executive] and operations manager does not include experience in the commercial passenger transportation industry prior to 2019,” it said, adding the business plan Kater submitted was unrealistic.

“Its business plan is ambitious; the services it says it will provide and the stakeholder relationships it intends to build do not align with its financial information.”

The board concluded financial projections were too optimistic and did not account for competition, and that the company also underestimated its costs.

“Kater’s projection that it will break-even after four months of operation is unrealistic,” it said.

The Board also rejected an application from Richmond-based ReRyde Technologies, which intended to operate in Greater Victoria, the Island, and the Okanagan.

The Board says a number of ride hailing applications are still under review.

While Premier John Horgan and Transportation Minister Claire Trevena had long promised British Columbians that ride-hailing would make its way to B.C. by the 2019 holidays, those promises only materialized with the approval of a single application by the end of last year.

Green Coast Ventures Inc., a Tofino-based company operating under the name Whistle, only plans to offer ride-hailing in smaller resort communities outside the Lower Mainland, such as Tofino, Ucluelet, Whistler, Pemberton and Squamish.

Trevena said the approval of two more companies shows the government has succeeded where the previous government failed.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

— with files from Business in Vancouver, Times Colonist

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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