British Columbia

Ride-hailing to hit B.C. streets by September, province says

The province has just announced it will have its final pieces in place to allow ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft on B.C. streets by mid-September.

Passenger Transportation Safety Board will start processing company applications by Sept. 3

Ride hailing companies will be required to pay a $5,000 annual fee to operate, but the ministry says it still does not know if it will be more or less expensive to insure a ride hailing vehicle, compared to a taxi. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

The province has unveiled the final pieces of its ride-hailing puzzle which will finally allow services like Uber and Lyft to hit B.C. streets.

 North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma announced on behalf of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, that ICBC has completed the insurance portion of the proposed legislation, and the Passenger Transportation Board will be able to take applications from ride services companies starting Sept. 3.

Last November, the province's proposed legislation received royal assent.

The regulations, which will significantly expand the power of the Passenger Transportation Board to determine fares, as well as the number of licensed vehicles in each region or area, have now been passed by order in council.

Today, Ma said the board will start assessing licence applications in early September with the final regulations coming into effect Sept. 16.

Application processing time will be anywhere from two weeks to a month, the ministry estimates.

"We fully expect that people will be able to hail a ride through this new industry — the Transportation Network Service industry — by the end of the year," said Ma in a teleconference.

Another part of the legislation to ensure passenger safety, said the ministry, is the need for all ride service drivers to have a Class 4 licence, which means drivers will have to provide an ICBC driver abstract, as well as a police criminal record check.

"The Class 4 requirement is not negotiable for us," said Ma.

Today, North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma said the board will start assessing licence applications in early September, with the final regulations coming into effect Sept. 16. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Taxi companies will also be required to pay 30 cents for every non-accessible trip completed in a vehicle without rear or side wheelchair accessible entries. The province says this is an important step in modernizing the taxi industry and supporting accessibility in our region.

The ministry will also require all drivers to have their vehicles inspected periodically under the Motor Vehicle Act. Any vehicles operating more than 40,000 kilometres per year will require inspection every six months. If fewer than 40,000 kilometres, vehicle inspections will be required every 12 months.

Ride hailing companies will be required to pay a $5,000 annual fee to operate, but the ministry said it still does not know if it will be more or less expensive to insure a ride hailing vehicle, compared to a taxi.

The Passenger Transportation Board is an independent tribunal in B.C. established under the Passenger Transportation Act. It makes decisions on applications relating to the licensing of taxis, limousines, shuttle vans, inter-city buses, and now, ride-hailing services in B.C.

'Red tape'

In a statement, Lyft said the rules released on Monday "[impose] unnecessary red tape that could leave British Columbians with a lesser version of ridesharing than their neighbours across North America."

It said requiring commercial Class 4 licenses for drivers will not improve safety, but will increase wait times and benefit the taxi industry.

"Lyft does not currently operate ridesharing in any jurisdiction that requires drivers to change their driver's licence to a commercial driver's licence. We will continue to advocate for the world-class Lyft service that British Columbians deserve," the statement read in part."

Uber did not immediately respond to CBC's request for comment.