Uber has become the latest ride-hailing company to say they’ll apply for a licence in B.C.
In a brief Wednesday morning social media post, the company said they plan to go to the BC Passenger Transportation Board to apply for a licence to operate in B.C.
The province has said companies can begin applying for the licence on Sept. 3. Applications will take about six to eight weeks to process.
Both Uber and and Lyft, which announced it would join the ride-hailing market in B.C. earlier this summer, say they’ll operate only in the Lower Mainland for now.
In an email, an Uber spokesperson said its licence will cover Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Squamish and Lillooet, but “the specific communities where Uber would be available will not be finalized until closer to a launch date, based on the number of qualified driver-partners who sign up to use the app.”
Michael van Hemmen, Uber’s head of Western Canada operations, said the company is encouraging drivers to start the process to obtain a Class 4 commercial driver’s licence, which B.C. requires for driving a ride-hailing vehicle.
“We’re optimistic that Uber will be here for the busy holiday season,” van Hemmen said.
Lyft and Uber’s applications are for the Passenger Transportation Board (PBT) region one, which includes Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Squamish, Whistler and Lillooet. Once they apply, operators can specify which part of the region they wish to serve.
The PBT also regulates taxi companies, and intends to maintain the historical municipal boundaries for cabs. Taxi companies protested the change, saying it gives ride-hailing companies an unfair advantage. That prompted the B.C. Liberal Party to call for taxis to be given the same boundaries.
B.C. Liberal MLA Jas Johal said suburban taxi drivers, including members of the B.C. Taxi Association, want the municipal boundaries eliminated so they can compete on a level playing field with ride-hailing companies. He said the current system, with the Class 4 licence restriction, may force operators like Lyft and Uber to leave out Surrey, Delta or other suburban regions.
“The traditional boundaries that define where taxis can and can’t operate are outdated and don’t represent our modern need for an integrated transportation network for a growing population,” Johal said.
Regional district boundaries are used to define five ride hailing operating zones in B.C.: Lower Mainland-Whistler, Capital, Vancouver Island outside the capital region, Okanagan-Kootenay-Boundary-Cariboo and a fifth region taking in the rest of the province.