A B.C. company says it has managed to get around ridesharing laws and will be launching its service by the end of March.
Kater Technology, based in Surrey, announced its soft-launch Thursday with a website asking for potential passengers in Vancouver to sign up.
In the coming weeks, select interested riders will be asked to download the company’s app to try it out, according to its website. Roughly 30 to 40 cars in its 140-car fleet will be hitting the streets around March 30.
How did Kater skirt the current laws that prohibit ridesharing in B.C.? It got permits through the Vancouver Taxi Association. The company originally operated as a service that connected customers to personal drivers for their own vehicles.
Although people will use the app to hail a ride, they’ll be charged the same base and travel rates as all other taxi services in the city. Drivers will only be allowed to pick up in Vancouver.
The company’s plan has been met with criticism, specifically from members of Ridesharing Now for BC, which is sponsored by ridesharing companies Lyft and Uber, who have been calling on the province to finalize its legislation.
“Kater is simply another form of taxi and does not address the need for transportation options across B.C. – not just where they make deals with local taxi associations,” the organization said.
Ian Black, president of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, said in a statement on social media that consumers are no further ahead with the service.
This is NOT ride hailing. It’s the “love child” of the existing taxi monopoly & the recent BC Govt legislation that delays or prevents true ride hailing. Consumers no further ahead, competition stifled, highest cab prices in Canada remain. #Embarrassing
— Iain Black (@iainblack_gvbot) March 21, 2019
The NDP government passed legislation in November to allow ride-hailing services as soon as next fall, with restrictions on their numbers and requirements for private vehicle drivers to obtain a class four driver’s licence, pass a criminal record check, and have vehicles inspected.
– With files from Tom Fletcher