The B.C. government has stamped a definitive “no” on Class 5 drivers’ licences for ridesharing drivers, ignoring an all-party committee’s recommendation.
In a letter to the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB), Transportation Minister Claire Trevena outlines her concerns about Class 5 licences for ride hailing companies.
“I am a firm believer in safety and believe that a commercial Class 4 driver licence provides a safer atmosphere for passenger directed vehicle movements, with extra testing and a medical examination completed at the time of application and in routine intervals thereafter,” Trevena writes.
The letter was sent to PTB chair Catharine Read and outlines the next steps for designing the provincial regulations for ridesharing in the province. The PTB will be asked to look at the current ridesharing industry and the recommendations put forward earlier this year by an all-party legislative committee.
WATCH: Why doesn’t the NDP like ridesharing?
The committee tasked to look into ridesharing regulations in B.C. recommended drivers should hold a Class 5 licence, the only recommendation the province is no longer considering.
The committee put forward 10 other recommendations also include no geographical boundaries for pick-up and drop-off, no caps on ridesharing fleet sizes and ensuring the cost of a trip is not less than the cost of public transit.
“We have learned from what has happened elsewhere. We have seen other provinces with Class 4 and there are ride hailing companies working there,” Trevena said.
Ridesharing drivers in Alberta are now required to have the more expensive and comprehensive Class 4 licence.
Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and most U.S. jurisdictions only require a Class 5, which is the minimum every driver in B.C. must have.
The B.C. government is committing additional resources to deal with an expected crush of applicants for Class 4 licences.
WATCH (aired April 10, 2019): ICBC data shows crash rates of Class 4 & 5 drivers similar
“ICBC will be ready to handle the influx of people applying for licences required for rideshare,” Attorney General David Eby said in March. “If people are interested in rideshare there is no harm in going now.”
Class 4 licences requires drivers to go through a medical exam and be 19 years of age. The commercial road test also includes a pre-trip inspection test, and a higher score is required for the road and knowledge test.
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.
WATCH (March 26, 2019): All-party committee delivers report on ridesharing in B.C.
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.
“If government launches ridesharing with these commercial licences, Class 4 licensing, it is going to be forcing people into a second-rate service that won’t meet the demand that is there right now,” Lyft’s Canadian managing director Aaron Zifkin said.
“The arbitrary Class 4 regime will artificially disrupt ridesharing and result in way longer pick up times and other service problems.”
Lyft says they still plan on reviewing the regulations before making a decision on whether the company can operate in British Columbia.
Data released by ICBC suggests Class 4 drivers aren’t necessarily safer than the general public. According to the insurer, there are roughly 50,000 Class 4 licence holders in B.C. compared to 2.8 million Class 5 drivers.
Collision data compiled by the Crown corporation shows that from 2012 to 2016, Class 4 drivers caused about one fewer collision per hundred drivers than Class 5 drivers over the the same period.
—With files from Aaron McArthur