The B.C. government is committing additional resources to deal with an expected crush of applicants for Class 4 licences, after deciding to ignore an all-party committee’s recommendations of allowing ridesharing drivers to use Class 5 licences.
“ICBC will be ready to handle the influx of people applying for licences required for rideshare,” Attorney General David Eby said. “If people are interest in rideshare there is no harm in going now.”
But major ridesharing companies have raised concerns over operating in a jurisdiction that requires a Class 4 licence, which is currently required for taxi drivers.
Lyft says requiring Class 4 licences could prevent ridesharing from ever truly existing in B.C., and will make it nearly impossible for Lyft to operate in the province.
“Class 4 licences will unnecessarily keep responsible drivers with safe driving records and clean criminal background checks from driving with ridesharing services and limit the number of drivers available, thereby affecting service levels for riders,” Lyft public policy manager Traci Lee said.
The B.C. government says the decision was made to go with Class 4 because it gives “people extra security.”
Alberta is the only jurisdiction that requires a Class 4 licence. Toronto is looking at potential changes and New York City requires a different licence altogether for ridesharing drivers.
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A Class 4 licence includes a $15 knowledge test, a vision test, a medical exam, a $40 road test and a new licence card.
“What we have heard from British Columbians is people are looking for flexibility and safety is number one,” Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said.
“The medical checks, you have got to know your vehicles. If your kid was getting into an Uber or Lyft you would want to know they are getting the safest possible ride.”
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The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) is supportive of ridesharing and the province’s decision to require Class 4 licenses.
“Public safety is our priority and we informed the ridesharing committee that we were in favour of the Class 4 licensing requirement because of the additional steps that potential drivers must take — with the ultimate goal of ensuring the highest levels of public safety,” VPD spokesperson Const. Jason Doucette said.