British Columbia

First ride-hailing company in B.C. gets green light — and it's not Uber or Lyft

The first ride-hailing company in B.C. has been given approval to operate, but it won't be running in Vancouver.

Whistle to operate in Tofino, Ucluelet, Whistler, Pemberton and Squamish in the first year

The first ride-hailing company in B.C. has been given approval to operate and it's not Lyft or Uber and it won't be running in Vancouver. (Richard Vogel/Associated Press)

The first ride-hailing company in B.C. has been given approval to operate, but it won't be running in Vancouver.

The Passenger Transportation Board announced Monday that Green Coast Ventures Inc., has been given the go-ahead to operate in Tofino, Ucluelet, Whistler, Pemberton and Squamish in its first year.

The app passengers will use to hail a ride with the company will be called Whistle. The company says the service will focus on resort towns where there are struggles for transit solutions during peak times. 

Company founder Dylan Green said the app will match other ride-hailing companies, connecting passengers with a driver for an upfront fare.

"We're excited to be part of the industry," he said. "The key right now is getting drivers to join our launch team."

Green expects demand to be high. He said he hopes to have the necessary licensing to have the app up and running in January, starting with Tofino.

Service in Vancouver is not a priority for Whistle — the company is focusing on the demands of smaller communities for now, Green said. 

"We're really going to focus on the towns we know best," he said. 

Green Coast's application was one of 24 submitted by ride-hailing companies to the PTB.

An application from one other company, LTG Technologies, was denied for several reasons, including that the board didn't think the company had the experience necessary and that there was no evidence of a satisfactory safety plan. 

The other applications remain under review. 

Green Coast was founded by Green in 2002 as Tofino Bus Services Inc. Its fleet of more than 30 vehicles provides school bus, freight, full-service bus stations and employee and beach shuttle services on Vancouver Island.

It is the largest provider of inter-city bus services in B.C. 

On Monday, Transportation minister Claire Trevena gave no hints on when Uber or Lyft might be approved.

However, she said she anticipates the PTB to work quickly to approve more applications.

"Everybody wants to see app-based ride-hailing here, myself included," she said.

"[I'm] hoping to see that those applications are approved soon."

In a statement, Uber said "Metro Vancouver residents and visitors want Uber now to help them travel around the region."

It said it's looking forward to approval as soon as possible, so driver-partners "can begin providing safe, affordable, reliable rides."

And in a similar statement, Lyft agreed.

"Lyft is eager to begin operating in the Metro Vancouver region... We look forward to beginning service once our licences are in place," it said. 

 

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