Port Coquitlam’s mayor says a single rideshare licence that will cover the full Tri-Cities region should be a template for the rest of Metro Vancouver.
Brad West says the prospect of forcing ridesharing companies to procure separate business licences for every municipality in the region will discourage drivers and punish passengers.
“I am concerned that by having a fractured system throughout the region you’re going to make it really challenging for ride-hailing to actually be able to operate,” said West.
“If you’re a driver and you have to pay 21 different fees to pick up and drop off in the 21 different municipalities in Metro Vancouver, what you’re probably going to do is pay the fee to operate in Vancouver, maybe Richmond so you can access the airport.”
Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam and Port Moody have plans to offer a single permit fee that would cover a rideshare company’s entire fleet, with a 10 cent fee for pickups in any of the three municipalities.
Port Coquitlam council approved the measure on Tuesday, while the other two councils are slated to consider it in the coming days.
That fee would be waived for accessible or zero-emission vehicles, which West said the cities are looking to incentivize.
Ridesharing Now for BC president Ian Tostenson called the initiative a smart move.
“This is going to allow a lot more people to afford to be a driver for ridesharing,” he said.
“I think the Tri-Cities are saying that we want ridesharing because the people that live there want ridesharing, unlike Vancouver that put some obstacles in place.”
West contrasted the Tri-Cities’ approach to Vancouver’s business licence, which charges $100 per vehicle, along with a 30-cent pickup and drop-off fee.
“If it was replicated by every other municipality in Metro Vancouver it would basically make ride-hailing financially impossible,” said West.
West said he is now hoping that Metro Vancouver as a region looks at the Tri-Cities plan and adopts it for all municipalities.
“Look at the template that Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam and Port Moody have been able to put together, and let’s just apply that region-wide,” he said.
“It’s a set of commonsense regulations. It’s not particularly onerous, not full of red tape, and most importantly, is not going to be cost-prohibitive.”
West says he plans on speaking with the region’s mayors in the coming weeks to promote the idea.
It remains unclear when ridesharing will actually hit the road in B.C.
The province opened applications to companies in September, but the Passenger Transportation Board has yet to grant any provincial licences.