Ride-hailing may hit B.C. roads by September

The soonest ride-hailing services could hit the roads in B.C. is September, according to a July 8 announcement from the province | Shutterstock

What happened: Victoria sets date to accept applications from ride-hailing companies

Why it matters: The province says the soonest services could be available in B.C. — one of the few jurisdictions in the continent without ride-hailing — will be mid-September

The B.C. government says companies hoping to operate ride-hailing services in the province will be able to submit applications and potentially operate by September.

While ride-hailing services are available in most jurisdictions across North America, Vancouver is known to be the largest city in the continent without transportation options such as Lyft Inc. (Nasdaq: LYFT) or Uber Technologies Inc. (NYSE: Uber).

That will change September 3, when the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) begins accepting applications from companies wishing to operate within the province.

The quickest any of these companies will be able to hit the roads will be September 16, when all the related regulations will be in full force.

Most jurisdictions allow private companies to determine their own prices and supply of vehicles, however, the cabinet-appointed PTB will be taking on those responsibilities in B.C.

The government will also require that drivers possess Class 4 licences, which are less ubiquitous compared with Class 5 licences and require higher levels of testing.

Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman said her organization was pleased the PTB would soon begin accepting applications.

“However, the Surrey Board of Trade is disappointed that Class 4 licence requirements are a part of the regulation. This needs to be revisited by government to enable full market participation in the ride-hailing industry,” she said in a statement.

The Surrey Board of Trade is advocating for the scrapping of any geographic boundaries for drivers, permitting marked-based pricing and allowing drivers to posses Class 5 licences.

"Our plan has made it possible for ride-hailing companies to apply to enter the market this fall, with vehicles on the road later this year, while ensuring the safety of passengers and promoting accessibility options in the industry," B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said in a statement.