The ride hailing service Uber is coming to British Columbia, not yet to Greater Victoria (Black Press File)

Uber won’t offer rides in Greater Victoria — for now

Uber’s decision to apply for license in Metro Vancouver and elsewhere draws range of reactions

A leading ride hailing service won’t be coming to Victoria for the time being, prompting a range of local reactions.

Uber announced Wednesday that it plans to apply for a license from the BC Passenger Transportation Board to operate in B.C. after the provincial government had said companies can begin applying for the licence on Sept. 3.

Applications will take about six to eight weeks to process.

RELATED: Uber to apply for ride-hailing licence in B.C., will operate in Lower Mainland

Both Uber and and Lyft, which announced it would join the ride-hailing market in B.C. earlier this summer, say they’ll operate only in the Lower Mainland for now.

In an email, an Uber spokesperson said its licence will cover Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Squamish and Lillooet, but “the specific communities where Uber would be available will not be finalized until closer to a launch date, based on the number of qualified driver-partners who sign up to use the app.”

This statement means that Greater Victoria residents won’t be able to use either ride hailing service for now.

Dan Dagg, chair of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, said the region has shown a demand for ride hailing, which he described as a “transportation innovation” that appeals to people because of its convenience and cost.

“Greater Victoria has an excellent reputation as a tourist destination and hot bed for technology companies attracted by our quality of life,” he said. “Tourists and business people expect to be able to use ride-hailing services in the places they visit or operate, and we want our region to have modern transportation options.”

RELATED: B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Mohan Singh Kang, president of the BC Taxi Association representing the majority of some 40 taxi companies on Vancouver Island, was naturally less enthusiastic about the news of Uber coming to British Columbia.

“My answer is that I’m a taxi guy,” he said. “I have spent all my life in the taxi industry. My concern is always for the best interests of the taxi family.”

This said, Uber’s decision to forgo Greater Victoria for now will benefit the industry. “It will be good for the taxi industry, because it gives them time to prepare for ride hailing companies whenever they start operating in the [Capital Regional District],” he said.

Kang eventually expects ride-hailing to come to Greater Victoria, and he is calling on the provincial government to further level the playing field between traditional tax companies subject to considerable regulations.

“How can you effectively compete?” he asked.

Dagg struck a similar note in defence of local businesses. “We also need to make sure the rules for ride hailing won’t create unfair market conditions for new or existing businesses,” he said.

Local environmentalists, though, are likely to cheer Uber’s current absence from Greater Victoria. Ride-hailing services have long faced the criticism of compounding gridlock. They also stand accused of quietly absolving governments of investing more resources into faster, more efficient public transit options.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Ginormous 10-foot dragon towers over Saanich yard

Artist Dan Iochelli spent seven years crafting the metal beast

Return of the undead: Victoria Zombie Walk hits the streets

Hundreds of zombies expected for annual event Oct. 26 in Centennial Square

Popular corn maze at North Saanich’s Pendray Farms out of operation

No Halloween-themed activities taking place this year at local farm

Investigation into cause of Saanich structure fire underway

The Friday morning fire left contents of the home ‘beyond repair,’ says a Saanich firefighter

Access: A day in the life using a wheelchair in Victoria

Black Press Media teamed up with the Victoria Disability Resource Centre to learn about barriers

VIDEO: Explosion, fire sends woman running from Saanich home

Heavy smoke in the area, crews on scene

Judge orders credit union’s bank records for Kelowna social worker facing theft allegations

The man is accused of negligence, breach of contract, fraud and a conspiracy with Interior Savings

Leaders pour it on with rallies, boosts for candidates as campaign reaches peak

The federal election campaign has reached a crescendo

Allegations of racism lead to ministry investigation at Vancouver private school

St. George’s School was contacted over school describes as ‘deeply offensive behaviour online’

Not a political question: Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta

Edmonton police estimated the size of the crowd at about 4,000

Zantac, the over-the-counter heartburn drug, pulled in Canada, U.S.

Health Canada also investigates possible carcinogen in some ranitidine drugs

B.C. public safety minister says cannabis edibles not in stores til January

Mike Farnworth says he wants regional issues considered when it comes to licensing

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

Greta Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta, but doesn’t talk oilsands

Swedish teen was met with some oil and gas industry supporters who came in a truck convoy

Most Read