The world’s two largest ride-hailing companies are coming to the Lower Mainland.
B.C.’s Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) has granted licences to Uber and Lyft to operate in the Lower Mainland and Whistler, the area known as “Region 1” under the province’s regulations.
But the PTB refused to grant a permit in any part of the province for Kater Technologies, the taxi industry-backed ride-hailing company that operated in B.C. from spring to December of last year.
In its decision, the PTB found Kater’s “ambitious” business plan and revenue projections “incongruous and unrealistic,” and said the company did not properly account for competition.
It also rejected an application from ReRyde Technologies, which had sought to operate in the Victoria area, Vancouver Island and B.C.’s central interior.
“The decisions were made after a careful review of the extensive materials received during the application process which included supporting information provided by the applicants and submissions from interested members of the public and stakeholders,” the PTB said in a media release.
Uber spokesperson Michael van Hemmen lauded the decision, and said he expected vehicles to be on the road “in the next few days.”
“We hope to launch very soon, once we have obtained a business licence from the City of Vancouver and purchased insurance from ICBC,” van Hemmen said.
“In the meantime, we encourage all qualified drivers with a Class 4 licence to sign up on the Uber app at drive.uber.com so they can start earning money as soon as operations begin.”
Emails were quickly sent out to members of Uber’s mailing list urging drivers to download the app and sign up.
In its own statement, Lyft said it was also working to secure the necessary municipal licences to launch.
“We are thrilled to have received approval from the Passenger Transportation Board and are excited to bring Lyft’s ride-hailing service to the region,” said Peter Lukomskyj, general manager of B.C., Lyft.
“We’re working closely with municipalities to ensure we have our business licences in place to begin operating. Once those are approved, we plan to announce our initial operating area.”
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart took to Twitter following the announcement to say the city was ready to turn licence applications around in three days or less.
However, he later said staff would be ready to issue licences Thursday.
The city said it was able to issue business licences to both companies Thursday, after staff ensured the licences were ready for approval ahead of the PTB’s announcement.
Lyft has advised the city the company has 388 standard vehicles and 23 electric vehicles ready to operate in Vancouver as of Thursday. Uber has not yet shared with the city how many vehicles it has ready to go.
ICBC said it had issued insurance to Uber and Lyft Thursday, and that once the companies provided their PTB authorization they would be able to purchase it.
The Lower Mainland is also still grappling with a fragmented system of municipal licences. In December, Metro Vancouver voted to move forward with a unified business licence for the region.