PEI

New driver's licence paves way for ride-booking services on P.E.I.

It could soon get easier for Islanders to get a ride home, to a restaurant or anywhere else they need to go.

Restricted Class 4 licence also makes it easier for taxi drivers to get on road

The province says no changes to legislation are required to allow ride-booking operations on P.E.I. (Shutterstock / Zivica Kerkez)

It could soon get easier for Islanders to get a ride home, to a restaurant or anywhere else they need to go.

The P.E.I. government is paving the way for ride-booking companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate on the Island, and it's also making it easier for cab drivers to get a licence.

Transportation Minister Steven Myers announced Saturday that no changes to legislation are required to allow ride-booking operations on P.E.I.

That is "fantastic news" for Matt MacLeod, co-owner of RedRide, a local app-based ride-booking company getting set to open on P.E.I. 

"It's just one more piece of the puzzle before we hit the road," he said.

"It's something that we've been kind of waiting for, some clarification on what's required for our drivers, which is great and also we feel is good for the entire industry because there is a lack of drivers right across the province right now."

Government will offer a new type of driver's licence for those in the ride-hailing trade.

The restricted Class 4 taxicab or ride-booking driver's licence will require drivers to meet basic medical requirements. The province will also review their driving abstract before they can offer ride-booking services.

RedRide, an app-based ride-booking business, says the restricted Class 4 licence is one more piece in the puzzle to get up and running. (RedRide/Facebook)

"We hope this opens the market for innovative transportation solutions while balancing the safety interests of drivers and passengers," Myers said in a news release.

Taxi drivers will also be eligible to apply for the restricted Class 4 driver's licence, eliminating a requirement for taking a special road test for larger passenger vehicles.

Easier to hire taxi drivers

A regular Class 4 licence allows a person to drive a taxi, ambulance or small bus with fewer than 25 passengers. The new restricted Class 4 licence will allow a person to drive a taxi or ride-share vehicle.

Chris Pye, part owner of Air Cab in Summerside, said allowing ride-booking companies into the market could hurt the taxi industry. But he said the new licence will also make it easier to hire taxi drivers who only intend to drive a car.

Chris Pye of Air Cab in Summerside says the restricted Class 4 licence will make it easier to hire taxi drivers. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

He said he is hoping to expand into Charlottetown, and the road test was a deterrent for some potential taxi drivers because they may have to spend up to $100 to rent a 16-passenger van to take the test.

"I've had a lot of people ask, 'How do I drive? How can I come work for you? How can I get a job with you guys?'" he said.

"And once I start naming off everything they've got to do and I get to the part where they got to go rent that van … a lot of people around Summerside don't have that kind of money that are looking for work."

Reduce impaired driving incidents

MacRae said he expects RedRide to be up and running as soon as it gets insurance. He said he hopes having more taxis and ride-booking cars on the road will reduce the number of impaired driving incidents on P.E.I.

"We have to give Islanders an option, one more reason for them to have no excuse to get behind the wheel after they've been drinking," he said. 

The restricted Class 4 driver's licence will be available through Access PEI in Alberton, Summerside, Charlottetown, Montague and Souris starting in December, the province said.

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