Uber turns attention to launching in Victoria, Kelowna

Ride-hailing giant has put in an application to the Passenger Transportation for licences across the province’s different regions

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Made-in-B.C. companies offering ride-hailing services outside the Lower Mainland could soon be facing some stiff competition.

Uber Technologies Inc. (NYSE:UBER) revealed Wednesday (September 9) it’s submitted an application to provincial regulators for licences to operate in all regions across the province.

The move is part of an effort to begin operating in Victoria and Kelowna by year’s end.

The multinational ride-hailing giant did not initially apply for licences to operate in what the Passenger Transportation Board has designated as Region 2 (Capital Regional District) or Region 4 (Okanagan-Kootenays-Cariboo) when applications opened late last year.

Instead, both Uber and Lyft Inc. (Nasdaq:LYFT) focused on launching in Region 1 (Lower Mainland), where they have operated since late January.

But other operators have been looking to gain a first-mover advantage outside the province’s most urbanized region.

Victoria-based LTG Technologies Ltd. (Lucky to Go) began offering services in Kelowna in July.

“That was our game plan to begin with. Why not capture the market where there is no competition in the beginning? That’s why we want to make sure we develop enough business in the surrounding area, then go into the competitive regions,” founder Mandeep Rana told BIV earlier this summer.  

“We will definitely be launching in Vancouver, because if there is enough demand for our passengers who are travelling from all these places to Vancouver, they would like to use our services there, too.”

Meanwhile, Richmond-based ReRyde Technologies Inc. plans to launch services outside Metro Vancouver in the coming weeks.

“When we were choosing which market to entertain, we noticed there was a huge gap,” director of operations Jamil Chaudhry told BIV last month in reference to Uber and Lyft offering services only within the Lower Mainland.

“Companies are rushing towards one area. One reason’s for sure: everyone is looking to cater to the community with the higher population.”

ReRyde plans to operate in the Capital Regional District, the rest of Vancouver Island, the Okanagan and northern B.C.

Uber is urging potential B.C. drivers to pursue Class 1, Class 2 or Class 4 licences.

But at the outset of the pandemic, the Insurance Corporation of B.C. suspended road tests over safety concerns, leaving limited potential for companies to recruit drivers with the appropriate licences. 

ICBC road tests resumed on September 9 but Rana said it was only possible for Lucky to Go to launch in Kelowna in July did by recruiting taxi drivers who already possessed a Class 4 licence.