Illegal ride-hailing services busted in Richmond, B.C.

Twelve drivers illegally running ride-hailing services in Richmond have been reprimanded — including a driver with an "N" licence and another with an expired one.

Udi Kuaiche, RaccoonGo and Dingdang Carpool under surveillance since last fall

Drivers illegally operating ride-hailing services in B.C. have been fined as part of a coordinated effort between the City of Richmond, RCMP and the Passenger Transportation Board. (Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock)

Twelve drivers illegally running ride-hailing services in Richmond, B.C., have been reprimanded — including a new driver with an "N" licence and another with an expired one.

"What it highlights is if a person uses one of these unregulated ride apps you're getting into a stranger's vehicle and there's no guarantee of anything," said Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie.

In a written statement, the City of Richmond said the drivers were targeted as part of a joint effort between the city, the province's Passenger Transportation Branch and RCMP over the past two weeks. 

The PTB issued fines of $1,150 for the drivers, and the city issued each of the drivers tickets for:

  • Operating a business without a licence.
  • Failure to display a chauffeur's permit. 
  • Failure to display a tariff card.

The RCMP also issued five tickets and one vehicle was towed. 

The city said companies including Longmao, Udi Kuaiche, RaccoonGo and Dingdang Carpool, launched ride-hailing apps and have been the subject of ongoing enforcement from the PTB since last fall. 

Brodie said the services were difficult to detect — many of the illegal services only respond to people who speak Chinese or another language.

"Who knows who's operating these apps. They're probably in some other country — they're certainly not in your city," he said. 

"And so you can't enforce anything against the apps themselves, you have to take all your actions against the drivers."

Ride hailing is illegal in British Columbia. The province is still considering permitting services like Uber and Lyft, despite a pre-election promise to do so by the end of 2017.

The city said that, to date, the PTB has issued 20 cease and desist orders and 23 fines of $1,150 to drivers operating without a licence. 

"It's important for drivers working through these apps [to know] that it is actually them that's assuming all of the risk," said PTB director Kristin Vanderkuip.

"They're the ones who are operating illegally and would be subject to the fine. They may also be subject to bylaw fines or other sanctions from their insurer or their lease company for not disclosing the commercial use of their vehicle."

The PTB also emphasized that some of the drivers had prior driving infractions and hadn't been required to complete a criminal record check.