Ride-hailing companies will be able to apply to operate in British Columbia starting on September 3, although it’s still unknown how many licences will be available, how much drivers can charge, and where they can pick up and drop off.
The B.C. government has unveiled some regulations for the new industry, including requiring drivers to go through criminal and driver record checks and banning drivers with four or more pointable convictions within two years. Non-accessible ride-hailing vehicles will be charged a new fee of 30 cents per trip to support funding for accessibility programs.
“Our plan has made it possible for ride-hailing companies to apply to enter the market this fall, with vehicles on the road later this year, while ensuring the safety of passengers and promoting accessibility options in the industry,” Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said.
“British Columbians have been asking and waiting for these services after more than five years of delay by the former government. We took action to allow for the services people want and we’re delivering on that promise.”
Ridesharing drivers will also be required to get a Class 4 licence. The licensing issue has been contentious, with both Uber and Lyft raising concerns that the commercial licence will impact the driver pool and water down the service provided.
WATCH (AIRED JUNE 14, 2019): Focus BC: Ridesharing will require a commercial licence
Alberta currently requires Uber drivers to have a Class 4 licence while Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, and Manitoba do not.
The B.C. government has repeatedly stated that a Class 4 licence enhances safety but has not provided any information to back up that claim. The Vancouver Police Department recommended the provincial government require a class 4 licence.
“Uber just received the details of the provincial government’s driver requirements. We will review the information and evaluate how they may impact our ability to provide British Columbians with the same ridesharing experience they already enjoy in cities across North America including Seattle, Calgary and Toronto,” Uber Canada business manager Michael van Hemmen said.
WATCH (AIRED JUNE 13, 2019): Why the NDP doesn’t like ride sharing
Uber points out that B.C. allows Operation Red Nose drivers to use a Class 5 licence and allows social service employees to transport children with a Class 5 licence. The bi-partisan legislative committee recommended to not require a Class 4 licence.
Lyft does not operate in any jurisdiction that requires a commercial licence. The company is still reviewing the regulations but is concerned about ‘supply restraints’.
“The regulations put in place today, in particular around class 4 licence, will not help address the issue of supply. When you look at our driving community, 91 per cent drive less than 20 hours a week. Those are the drivers you need for elastic supply,” Managing Director for Lyft in Canada Aaron Zifkin.
“You have to look at it in totality. We operate across North America. We delivers millions of rides. Great rides across both US and Canada and in none of those jurisdictions do we have class 4.”
The Passenger Transportation Board is expected to determine regulations on supply, boundaries and fares charged to passengers by the end of the summer.
Ride-hailing drivers will be required to use a new insurance product that ICBC will make available in September. The policy is a blanket, per-kilometre insurance product providing compulsory, third-party liability and accident benefits. The blanket insurance product will apply when the driver is providing ride-hailing services, with the driver’s own basic vehicle insurance policy applying in all other instances.
The changes will also require drivers of taxis and ride-hail vehicles to conduct an annual inspection if the vehicle has logged 40,000 kilometres or less in the previous year. A semi-annual inspection will be required if vehicles log more than 40,000 kilometres or more in the previous year. Ride-hail vehicles have to be less than 10 years to be allowed to operate.
The province has committed to having ridesharing vehicles on the road by the end of 2019.