Uber begins pushing hopeful B.C. drivers to get Class 4 licences

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What happened: Uber Technologies Inc. is telling potential drivers to obtain advanced licences

Why it matters: The ride-hailing company is trying to determine if there will be enough drivers to meet market demand in B.C.

In a sign Uber Technologies Inc. (NYSE: UBER) is uncertain whether B.C.’s ride-hailing regime will have enough drivers available to meet market demand, the company has begun pushing interested drivers to get advanced licences.

“The process to become an Uber driver requires that all driver partners have a valid Class 4 driver licence,” stated a July 24 memo, referring to the province’s requirements for drivers for the yet-to-be-launched services.

“This can take a bit of time to complete so we recommend getting started as soon as possible.”

In a statement to Business in Vancouver, Uber said this was not a launch announcement.

“Getting enough driver-partners qualified is the first of several steps before Uber can make a decision whether to launch in Metro Vancouver and it needs to review the regulations that government has designated the Passenger Transportation Board [PTB] to set, which includes key policies such as flexible pricing, boundaries and no vehicle caps,” the company said.

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.

Earlier this month the province announced that the Passenger Transportation Board would begin accepting applications after Labour Day from companies wishing to operate within the province.

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

“A prospective launch cannot be determined until after the PTB has set regulations and completed their reviews of applications (which is likely to take weeks), ICBC’s insurance product is available and enough interested drivers have completed the requirements,” Uber said.

torton@biv.com

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