British Columbia

Lyft blames new regulations for B.C. launch delays

Vancouver spokesman says the spontaneous nature of Lyft that allows a customer to get instant service is being undercut by government regulations and fees.

Spokesman says too many government roadblocks are being thrown in the way of the ride-hailing company

A Lyft logo is installed on a Lyft driver's car. The company says its B.C. roll out is being delayed by regulations. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

Ride-hailing company Lyft says municipal governments are delaying the company's B.C. roll out, to the point that it can't say when it will launch or where.

"There have been a few surprises," said Vancouver general manager Peter Lukomskyj. "Some of the things we hoped to bring to B.C. and Vancouver might just get here a little slower than anticipated."

Lukomskyj says the "spontaneous" nature of Lyft that allows a customer to get instant service is being undercut by the regulations and fees.

"The City of Vancouver imposed a $100 per vehicle fee on us and we've never really dealt with fees like this," he said. "We've heard from some municipalities that they're looking at a similar fee and potentially multiple times more ... so it may make operating in some regions just uneconomical or impossible." 

Lyft's Vancouver driver recruitment ads are in heavy rotation on social media. (Lyft)

According to Lukomskyj, Lyft is also having trouble recruiting drivers, despite offering training and hundreds of dollars in incentives.

In July, the province brought in legislation requiring ride-hailing drivers to have a Class 4 commercial licence and criminal and driving records check, just like taxi drivers.

Earlier this month, Vancouver became the first municipality in the Lower Mainland to pass regulations around ride-hailing, approving up to 60 cents in fees, including a 30 cent congestion fee, for every pickup and drop off in the "Metro Core" area borderd by Burrard Street, Clark Drive and 16th Avenue between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

An additional 30 cent accessibility fee has been created by the province for all rides in B.C.,  regardless of the time.

Lukomskyj says Lyft shouldn't be treated like taxi or limo companies who operate fleets of vehicles because its drivers are independent contractors driving their own cars. 

"Many vehicles we bring into the system are getting taxed this way and ultimately it really drives the price per rider up," he said.

He said the company hopes to be operating by Christmas.


With files from Deborah Goble


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