British Columbia

TransLink urges municipalities to create single region-wide, ride-hailing business licence

A new TransLink report ​​​​​​is calling for a single business licence for ride-hailing so drivers can operate freely across the region. 

Its report will be presented Thursday to the Mayors’ Council

TransLink is proposing a regional approach to business licenses for ride-hailing companies. (Cory Correia/CBC News)

A new TransLink report ​​​​​​is calling for a single business licence for ride-hailing so drivers can operate freely across the region. 

The report urges municipalities to work together to develop a unified approach to licensing. Current rules allow each city to impose a licence fee to ride-hailing drivers wanting to operate within its borders. 

In Vancouver, for instance, ride-hailing companies are facing a $155 licence fee, plus a $100 vehicle fee. Meanwhile in Burnaby, each driver will have to pay a $510 fee to operate in the city. 

While the Passenger Transportation Board prohibits municipalities from stopping ride-hailing from operating in their city, the framework does give cities the authority to regulate ride-hailing through licensing requirements.

"Regional co-ordination is needed to make effective use of these local government powers," says the TransLink report. 

A co-ordinated approach to regulation will ensure seamless travel across municipal boundaries, allow for secure management of real-time transportation data and minimize regulatory burdens, the report says.

Ride-hailing companies are free to operate throughout B.C. as soon as they receive authorization from the board, unless there are municipal business licence bylaws in place. 

Cumulative costs 

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart agrees with the recommendations.

The mayor worries the cumulative cost of licences will be too much for ride-hailing drivers, resulting in the services congregating in one city and leaving other municipalities without service.

"My concern is the whole system is going to fall apart," said Stewart. "We cannot abide a system that has essentially different licence fees across municipalities and different regulations for each municipality."

Allowing municipalities to set their own fees and regulations gives too much power to those who want ride-hailing to fail, Stewart said. 

Inter-municipal licenses

TransLink would like to see an inter-municipal licence to allow ride-hailing companies to cross boundaries freely. 

Municipalities should lay the foundation for a region-wide business licence until an entity is tasked with management of the licence process, the report suggests. 

"Having the right tools enables the region to benefit from new services while minimizing negative impacts," said the report. 

The report will be presented to the Mayors' Council on Thursday.

With files from Justin Mcelroy and Winston Szeto

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