A B.C. ridesharing company was granted its first win last week – the green light to hit roadways province-wide – but now it must overcome another major obstacle before picking up customers: hiring enough qualified drivers.
The Passenger Transportation Board approved KABU Ride Inc.’s application to operate in each region on Feb. 7, giving it a head start over mega-ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft in operating Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.
KABU is a subsidiary of Richmond-based ride-hailing service GoKabu, which was operating in the Richmond area without a licence for roughly three years, but temporarily shuttered services while awaiting provincial approval.
Martin Van den Hemel, KABU’s director of communications, said the plan is to officially launch in Metro Vancouver over the coming weeks while the company talks with business leaders and civic officials around B.C. to “gauge the level of interest” in ride-hailing.
“KABU hopes to launch in Victoria in the next three months, hopefully sooner,” Van dem Hemel told Black Press Media. “As far as the rest of the province, our launches will be determined by how quickly we can sign up qualified drivers to our platform.”
In its application to the transportation board, KABU said it planned to first begin operations in the Lower Mainland, Victoria and Nanaimo.
Van dem Hemel said the company is confident it will be operating in Kelowna by the summer. The company expects that 40 vehicles will be able to pickup customers in Kelowna and Kamloops by the end of 2020, according to its operating application.
Finding drivers who have at least a Class 4 licence may prove as the most difficult challenge in getting the company’s wheels in motion, Van dem Hemel admitted.
But once up and running, KABU will work differently than other ride-hailing services by allowing a customer to choose the language of their driver.
“So if there’s a customer who doesn’t speak English well, and would like a driver who speaks Spanish, for example, they’ll be able to choose that, provided we’ve got enough Spanish-speaking drivers,” Van dem Hemel said.
The company’s app, which isn’t yet available for download, will first offer services in English, Mandarin and Cantonese.