Ride-hailing has finally come to North Delta, though some parts of the city will still be without the service, at least for now.
Uber and Lyft officially launched their operations on Friday morning (Jan. 24), less than 24 hours after the Passenger Transportation Board announced it had approved both companies’ applications to operate in the Lower Mainland and Whistler and the City of Vancouver had issued them both business licences.
However, neither company will be operating region-wide just yet, though both plan to expand their operations as more qualified drivers become available.
For now, Lyft drivers will only pick up customers in a portion of Vancouver from Highbury Street/Jericho Beach Park in the west to Victoria Drive in the east, and from 41st Avenue in the south to the Burrard Inlet — though not in Stanley Park — as well as from the Pacific National Exhibition grounds and the Vancouver International Airport.
|Uber’s service area map for Metro Vancouver. (uber.com photo)|
Uber, meanwhile, is offering pick ups from most areas of the Lower Mainland west of 184th Street in Surrey and the Pitt River, though not south of Highway 10 in Surrey or the Boundary Bay Airport in Delta, leaving residents of Tsawwassen and the Tsawwassen First Nation high and dry for the time being.
Uber and Lyft are licensed by the Passenger Transportation Board to operate anywhere in Zone 1, which includes the Lower Mainland and Whistler. However, the companies will need to purchase a business licence from any municipality that requires one in order to pick up customers within those cities.
Cities cannot block ridesharing from operating in their jurisdictions, but they can use business licensing to impose restrictions on things such as where drivers can stop. In the absence of municipal — or regional — licensing requirements, then only the provincial rules apply.
Metro Vancouver mayors voted in December to fast-track a regional business licence, with an initial deadline of end of January.
New Westminster Mayor and TransLink Mayors’ Council chair Jonathan Cote said staff from the region’s cities have been working on creating the licence’s framework.
“What I have heard about the work happening from all the municipalities is that the work is on the track,” he told Black Press Media.
Once the licence is approved by the mayors’ council, each city included will have to vote on if it will take part.
Earlier that month, the City of Delta announced ride-hailing companies operating in the municipality would be required to pay a base annual business licence fee of $110 plus $25 per car, with a cap per company of $1,500.
A spokesperson for the City of Delta confirmed Friday afternoon that the city issued business licences to both Lyft and Uber just before Christmas, with each paying the full $1,500 fee.
The licence is the same one taxi companies are issued to pick-up passengers in the city, not one specific to ride-hailing. No taxi or ride-hailing company operates out of Delta, but they all pay the city the same fee for the privilege of picking up passengers here.
The fees currently being charged to Lyft and Uber, however, are meant to be an interim measure while the city works with other communities in the region and TransLink to establish the inter-municipal licensing system. Once that system is up and running, the Delta‑specific fees would be waived.
Matt MacInnis, vice president of corporate communications for Uber, told the Reporter on Friday that the only municipality in the region that to date has created a specific business licence for transportation network service (i.e. ride-hailing) operators is the City of Vancouver.
Other municipalities, he explained, may have passed a bylaw to that effect, but to the best of his knowledge none save for Vancouver have enacted said regulations, so there’s no licence for Uber to obtain from them.
In the meantime, MacInnis said Uber is supportive of the inter-municipal business licence TransLink is developing and looks forward to obtaining one when it becomes available.
|Lyft’s service area map for Metro Vancouver. (lyft.com photo)|
In a statement released Thursday night, Delta Coun. Dylan Kruger expressed his frustration about how the roll-out of ride-hailing has “disproportionately disadvantaged” communities south of the Fraser.
“Commuters south of the Fraser who are tired of being rejected by taxi drivers because they live ‘too far away’ will be disappointed to learn that they will not be able to turn to ride-sharing as a transportation solution any time soon,” Kruger said.
“While I am excited that ride-sharing companies like Uber will be operating in Metro Vancouver, I am extremely disappointed to learn that some parts of Delta and many communities south of the Fraser will be excluded entirely from Uber’s service area.”
Kruger blamed “superfluous” provincial regulations for the incomplete initial regional ride-hailing coverage.
“Stringent Class 4 drivers’ licence requirements that exclude many safe drivers, a duplicative patchwork of municipal licensing approaches, and some of the highest taxes and fees in the world have crippled ride-sharing’s operational and economic feasibility in several Metro Vancouver suburbs,” he said.
“This is about people’s ability to safely get around their communities. Ride-sharing should be accessible to everyone — especially those living south of the Fraser who need it the most.”
— with files from Ashley Wadhwani