Uber hopeful for holiday season launch in Kelowna

On Wednesday, Uber announced that it had applied for a license transfer from another rideshare company to operate in additional regions in B.C. NH

One of the world’s biggest ridesharing companies is hoping to have a presence in Kelowna and Victoria this winter.

On Wednesday, Uber announced that it had applied for a licence transfer from another rideshare company to operate in additional regions of B.C.

“Uber operates in over 140 municipalities across the country and is celebrating its 10th anniversary in Canada this year,” the company said in a press release.

“Uber launched ridesharing in British Columbia starting in Vancouver in January 2020. Since then, rideshare trips in Metro Vancouver now outnumber taxis 2-1. Uber has been looking to expand to the Victoria and Kelowna regions since its launch in Vancouver in 2020.”

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According to Uber, for a licence transfer to be approved, B.C’s Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) will examine whether a company is capable of providing the proposed service.

Two years ago, the PTB gave Uber the green light to operate in the Lower Mainland, but rejected its application for Kelowna and Victoria, saying “it wasn’t “convinced there exists a public need for the service applied for.”

“Fortunately, the PTB has found Uber to be fit and proper and capable on two separate occasions now. And our track record remains strong,” Uber said on Wednesday.

The company doesn’t know when the PTB will issue its decision, but is hopeful for sometime during the holiday season.

Click to play video: 'Uber application denied for BC’s Interior'
Uber application denied for BC’s Interior

Notably, Uber says Victoria and Kelowna are the two largest metropolitan areas in Canada where it doesn’t operate.

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Kelowna’s mayor, Colin Basran, called Uber’s application good news, adding “Uber’s arrival in Kelowna is long overdue.”

“We embrace providing diverse transportation options for both residents and visitors, with the goal of reducing both car dependency and the need for parking, while increasing mobility options,” said Basran.

“Safety is one of the biggest reasons we are strong advocates for ride-hailing choice in Kelowna. Other cities have documented a drop in impaired driving charges after ride-hailing companies began operations.

“From an equity perspective, the on-demand transportation sector allows for an income supplement for those struggling with high costs of living, and on their own timeline/schedule with little investment.”

Click to play video: 'Uber drops mask mandates as Canada battles sixth wave'
Uber drops mask mandates as Canada battles sixth wave

The mayor of Victoria, Lisa Helps, echoed those comments.

“The City of Victoria welcomes additional transportation options that help connect people and businesses to our community,” said Helps.

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“Ridesharing companies provide safe, reliable, and affordable on-demand services that meet the expectations of our residents and visitors.

“We’ve heard from local businesses, entrepreneurs and our hospitality industry that there is an immediate demand for these services.”

Click to play video: 'Ride-hailing companies look at expansion as demand increases in Metro Vancouver'
Ride-hailing companies look at expansion as demand increases in Metro Vancouver

Basran added ridesharing is a wanted service, especially during tourism season.

“I think a lot of why Uber hasn’t been here is merely political,” said the mayor.

“I think that, obviously, the taxi industry is a major part of our economy and is a strong lobby group. And they should be; they provide great service. But I think what we have been saying here in the City of Kelowna is that there is room for everybody.

“And so let’s allow Uber to be here. Let’s allow our taxi industry to continue to grow and let’s provide our residents with the best services possible.”


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