The Passenger Transportation Board, the independent tribunal in British Columbia making decisions on vehicle authorizations, today approved the licences allowing Uber and Lyft to operate in Metro Vancouver.
The decision comes after a lengthy battle by the ride-hailing companies to allow for operations in British Columbia. After years of campaigning, the provincial government introduced legislation in 2018 that would allow ride-hailing companies to expand into the province.
Mid-2019 the BC Ministry of Transportation set the date that ride-hailing companies can apply to enter the market for September 3. In August, Lyft and Uber both announced that they planned to begin operations by the end of 2019.
It was not until December that the first licence was approved, however. That first licence was handed to a local company called Green Coast Ventures, which operates in the Lower Mainland, Whistler, and Vancouver Island.
Michael van Hemmen, Uber’s head of Western Canada, called today’s approval “one of the final steps” before Uber is able to provide rides in the city.
Peter Lukomskyj, general manager of British Columbia for Lyft, added that Lyft is “thrilled” over the approval, adding thanks to the provincial government and Transporation Board “for their dedication in establishing the regulatory framework to make this possible.”
Lyft and Uber’s ability to begin operations are still subject to obtaining business licences with the City of Vancouver, as well as insurance. Both stated that they are currently working on obtaining those licences and have opened applications for drivers.
Uber released a statement predicting the demand for ridesharing services to be “very high” in Metro Vancouver, making a nod to the controversial Class 4 driver’s licence required for rideshare drivers.
“Due to the provincial government’s Class 4 driver’s licence requirement (which exists in only two other jurisdictions in North America), riders may experience longer than usual wait times as drivers on-board, and service may not be available in all Metro Vancouver communities at initial launch,” Uber stated.
Lyft has reportedly opened “driver hubs” in Surrey, Richmond, and the City of Vancouver and has partnered with Valley Driving School to help prospective drivers obtain their Class 4 commercial licence.