Uber and Lyft are finally on their way to Metro Vancouver.
The Passenger Transport Council announced Thursday that it had approved Uber and Lyft to operate on the Lower Mainland and Whistler of B.C.
At the same time, PTB refused approval from ReRyde Technologies Inc. and Kater Technologies Inc. for several years BC regions.
"British Colombians have been asking for new hitchhiking services since 2012, but the old government has failed. Our government has done the hard work and delivered," said Claire Trevena, BC Transport Minister, in a statement after the approvals. were announced Thursday.
"In the past two years, our government has been diligent in developing a framework that puts passenger safety first, and we stand firm against pressure to abandon the safety measures we have implemented. Road users can now be sure that the greeting services will meet some of the highest security standards in North America. "
Those eager to start hitchhiking shouldn't open their apps yet. The exact timetable for when the services will be available to the public was not immediately clear.
Uber said there are still "administrative approvals" needed before it starts operating.
"PTB approval is one of the final steps before Uber can start providing reliable, safe and affordable rides on the Vancouver subway," said Michael van Hemmen, Uber's head in western Canada in a press release. "We hope to launch very soon, once we have obtained a commercial license from the city of Vancouver and purchased insurance from ICBC."
Lyft also said that he is working with cities to obtain commercial licenses.
"Once approved, we plan to announce our initial operational area, take our inaugural tour and launch our service," said Lyft's general manager for B.C. said in a press release.
"We can't wait to see the new ways the Vancouverites explore their city after having a walk through Lyft at their fingertips."
In a message on Twitter, the Mayor of Vancouver said that the city is already prepared to give these licenses.
"Our team is on top of this, we will be ready to issue licenses TODAY," wrote Kennedy Stewart.
And ICBC told CTV News that insurance was issued to Uber and Lyft.
But the company sent emails to users on Thursday afternoon that said, "We have exciting news!"
The email informed those who had already signed up for the application that the service would be available soon in Metro Vancouver.
Long wait for ride
After the B.C. government introduced a ride last year, companies were able to sign up for PTB in the fall.
However, it still took months for Uber and Lyft to get PTB approval. First, Trevena told reporters in November that she was "very confident".
Then, in December, just days before Christmas, CTV News received a statement from Trevena echoing the same words.
But on New Year's Eve, only one hitchhiking company – which plans to operate mainly in tourist cities like Whistler – received PTB approval.
Restrictions an obstacle for drivers
Although the tour has been approved and Uber and Lyft may soon operate in the Lower Continent, the process for drivers to sign up for the service is more complicated than in other provinces. As a result, both Uber and Lyft said recruitment could be an issue.
The process for drivers includes obtaining a Class 4 commercial license, which requires a knowledge test, road test, vehicle inspection and medical examination.
"Due to the Class 4 licensing constraint, we are seeing fewer drivers than we would see in a healthy travel sharing market, like the others in which we operate," said Peter Lukomskyj, general manager of Lyft in BC, last October.
"Getting drivers enrolled in the program and finding enough drivers will be a challenge here."
Vancouver ready to ride
Along with the approval of the province, hitchhiking companies also need a license from the municipalities.
In December, the city of Vancouver said it was ready to welcome the tour and that regulations were already in place.
"City officials are already working closely with hitchhiking companies to prepare their commercial license applications for fast processing and intend to issue a municipal commercial license within three days after receiving a complete application," the city said in a statement. to the press at the time. .
Mayor Kennedy Stewart reiterated that three-day timeline in a tweet on Thursday.
The city also said it also works with other municipalities so that public transport companies can operate across the Lower Continent.
Licensing and vehicle fees for taxis and limousines are set at the same cost as hitchhiking companies in Vancouver. The annual license fee is $ 155 and companies pay an additional annual fee of $ 100 per vehicle.
However, wheelchair accessible and zero-emission vehicles have their vehicle tax exempt.
With files by Bhinder Sajan and Shannon Paterson, from CTV News Vancouver