Welcome to B.C., Uber and Lyft.
The ride hailing companies could be operating on B.C. roads as early as Sept. 16, according to the provincial government, which announced Monday its regulations on licensing and insurance for ride hailing will be in effect as of that date.
However, ride hailing companies would first need to apply for permission to operate through the Passenger Transportation Board; applications will be accepted beginning Sept. 3.
The PTB, an independent board, is also responsible for setting guidelines around supply, boundaries and fares.
“Our plan has made it possible for ride-hailing companies to apply to enter the market this fall, with vehicles on the road later this year, while ensuring the safety of passengers and promoting accessibility options in the industry,” said Transportation Minister Claire Trevena in a statement.
“British Columbians have been asking and waiting for these services after more than five years of delay by the former government. We took action to allow for the services people want and we’re delivering on that promise.”
The Passenger Transportation Act regulations will require criminal record checks and driver record checks for any driver working with a ride-hailing company, and will introduce a new 30-cent per-trip fee and a $5,000 annual license fee.
The Motor Vehicle Act regulations will change how frequently cars must undergo inspections, will remove seatbelt exceptions for all for-hire vehicles, and will introduce side-entry accessible taxis.
Drivers working for ride hailing companies are still required to hold a Class 4 commercial licence, a requirement supported by B.C.’s police chiefs association but that was not recommended by a legislative committee tasked with making recommendations for ride hailing.
Alberta requires ride hailing drivers hold a Class 1, 2 or 4 licence, all of which are for professional drivers.
ICBC will also introduce a new insurance policy for drivers and vehicles operating with ride-hailing companies, effective this September. The policy is a blanket, per kilometre insurance product that provides third-party liability and accident coverage.
Drivers working with ride-hailing companies would be required to have their own basic vehicle insurance policy when they are not working.
It will also be left to the PTB to decide how many ride-hailing vehicles will be allowed to operate, what boundaries if any are applicable and what rates would be charged.
Uber has yet to respond to the news officially, though a spokesman said the company was reviewing the details announced Monday before discussing publicly how it might impact the company’s entry into B.C.
More to come.