Two more ride-hailing services approved for B.C. roads

Vancouver's MDD initially plans to target the region's Chinese community with its ride-hailing services | submitted

What happened: Provincial regulator has issued approvals for the seventh and eighth ride-hailing services to operate in B.C.

Why it matters: The Passenger Transportation Board has rendered decisions on 23 out of 35 applications it’s received since the fall of 2019

The B.C. regulator responsible for ride-hailing applications may have taken a few on the chin for the pace at which it’s been approving operating licences, but a pandemic hasn’t stopped it from giving the nod to two more companies.

The Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) has approved applications from MDD Transport Network Inc. and Safe Ride Sharing Ltd. as of Thursday (March 19).

The approvals come even as Uber Technologies Inc. (NYSE:UBER) and Lyft Inc. (Nasdaq:LYFT) suspend car-pooling services amid the COVID-19 clamp-down.

Regular services remain available in B.C.

Vancouver-based MDD will be able to operate within the Lower Mainland and Whistler region, while it’s app and live agents will be offering services in English, Mandarin and Cantonese.

The company plans to focus on the region’s Chinese market for the first six months of operations, allowing users to pay using Alipay and WeChat Pay — payment methods popular in the Chinese community.

MDD plans to operate 300 vehicles initially before expanding to 1,000 vehicles.

Safe Ride Sharing, meanwhile, will be focused on offering services in the Okanagan with about 20 drivers.

MDD and Safe Ride Sharing are the seventh and eighth operators the PTB has granted licences to.

They follow Green Coast Ventures Inc., a Tofino-based company operating under the name Whistle; American giants Uber and Lyft; Richmond’s Kabu-Ride Inc., which is also targeting the Lower Mainland’s east Asian population; Garrindar Singh Parhar (operating as Apt Rides); and Sechelt-based Coastal Rides.

The PTB also revealed Thursday it’s declined applications from Getride Technologies Inc. and Yallah Inc. to offer ride hailing in B.C.

The regulator has denied 15 applications of the 23 it’s rendered decisions on, while another 12 separate applications are still under review.