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B.C. government won’t fast track ridesharing licences to ease potential transit strike pain

Uber is one of the companies that has applied for  licence to operate in B.C.
Uber is one of the companies that has applied for licence to operate in B.C. Provided by Uber

The B.C. government will not ask the independent Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) to fast track licences for ridesharing companies before the anticipated Metro Vancouver transit strike next week.

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena says the board is working as fast as it can, and the process needs to be respected.

“I think they are fully aware for the appetite for rideshare, they are fully aware of transit strike and they are working through their process,” Trevena said.

“I think the PTB is fully aware of the problems people will be facing when there is a transit strike next week.”

In September Trevena sent a letter to the PTB about “widespread concerns related to the introduction of ride-hailing services.”

Trevena wrote she is concerned about the absence of limits on ridesharing fleet sizes and the potential impact on Metro Vancouver traffic. The PTB continues to move ahead with no restrictions on fleet size.

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READ MORE: B.C. government raises concerns to Passenger Transportation Board over ridesharing vehicle caps

Ridesharing companies are still waiting for licence approvals. The expectation is companies will be able to operate by the end of the year.

BC Liberal MLA Jas Johal says the province should do everything necessary to alleviate the pressure on commuters from a potential strike. SkyTrain workers voted 96.8 per cent in favour of a strike currently set for November 27, 28 and 29.

“We are in crisis mode. Government should be using every tool in the tool box to ensure we have something on the road to help folks,” Johal said.

The PTB have been accepting applications for companies to operate in B.C. since Sept. 3.

READ MORE: Transit Strike Day 21: Both sides dig in as system-wide shutdown looms

At the end of the month, the independent body sent a letter to ridesharing applicants warning them to expect delays in application processing, raising new questions about when the industry will hit B.C. roads.

Johal said the transit strike would give the province and the companies a good chance to serve the public.

“These companies would be smart not to charge surge pricing on day one. It would good marketing and a way to endear yourself to the public,” Johal said.

Ridesharing could be further delayed in B.C.
Ridesharing could be further delayed in B.C.

Premier John Horgan was asked multiple times about what his government would do if there is a strike. Horgan says his suggestion is for both sides to get back to the bargaining table.

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“I am encouraging the parties to get back to the table. They have got the whole weekend to hammer out a deal and I think that’s the best course,” Horgan said.

On the idea of fast tracking ridesharing applications Horgan says he “appreciates the thinking outside the box” but won’t move any further than that.