Stranded BC

Delaying ride-hailing due to “beliefs”

“I’ve made it abundantly clear to anyone who will listen that I believe we need to have ride-hailing here — fair ride-hailing here — by Christmas, and that’s my commitment,” John Horgan said on October 31st. He explained, “We’re going at the speed we believe is appropriate for public safety and appropriate for fairness to the existing sector.” 

Why is it that the Premier avoided announcing a specific date and instead explaining how he “believed” they were going at an appropriate speed?

It is the misfortune of the province, and it’s Premier that the entire advancement of the ride-hailing issue is being led by a misleading minister who has purposely misrepresented statistical data.

“I am a firm believer in safety and believe that a commercial class 4 driver license provides a safer atmosphere for passenger-directed vehicle movements, with extra testing and a medical examination completed at the time of application and in routine intervals thereafter,”

It is because of her "beliefs" that citizens are being deprived of ride-hailing. ‘Belief’ is a basic necessity to administer a church but a "funny" idea to administer a government's office. Data released by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) suggests Class 4 drivers aren’t necessarily safer than the general public. Collision data compiled by the Crown corporation shows that from 2012 to 2016, Class 4 drivers caused about one fewer collision per hundred drivers than Class 5 drivers over the same period. With the data provided by ICBC, we can see how this issue is not being judged through statistics but rather with beliefs.

Effect of Belief

“The Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) is working through its processes. What I’m concerned about is that we have a lot of people who want to see ride-hail in B.C., we have 19 companies all ready to go to provide ride-hailing in B.C., and we want to see ride-hail in B.C.” said Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena on 31st October but what she neglected to mention is who would drive for these 19 companies. Using Toronto as an example, 90,000 drivers are working in private transportation companies (including Uber and Lyft) mostly all of them under class 5 driver's licenses. If each of the 19 applicant companies were to employ at least 1,000 drivers, in simple arithmetic, Vancouver needs 19,000 drivers to provide satisfactory service.

The Latest News

Lyft School

Indomitable Lyft set up their kiosk in search of potential drivers in busy public places like CF Richmond Centre or Guildford Town Centre (7 days week, 10 am to 9 pm). They partnered with Valley Driving School to offer free education sessions for drivers to learn about the requirements of a Class 4 license as well as tips on how to prepare for the necessary tests. Three education centres in Langley, Surrey, and Vancouver have also been set up to be available as early as 30th September, lasting until the end of the 2nd week of December!

The company has so far facilitated Class 4 training for “hundreds and hundreds” of potential drivers and promised hundreds of dollars in incentives. On October 24th, the bewildered General Manager of Lyft B.C., Peter Lukomskyj, confessed:

“We do anticipate having fewer drivers than we had hoped to launch with, so that may naturally restrict which regions we operate in.”

Uber: The Silent Observer

Michael van Hemmen, Uber's head of Western Canada, is not seen to come before the press very often. In a recent email statement, he said Uber is “actively working to begin operations in the weeks after we receive approval to operate from the Passenger Transportation Board.”

He also cautioned that the Class 4 requirement means riders may have to wait longer for rides compared with experiences in other cities.

But this biggest share-holder in the global market of rideshare is not so vehement like its rival. The company never announced in to media about their process of recruiting drivers. Silently they opened three offices in Vancouver to support the drivers – Seymour Street (at Hudson Bay), Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel, and Willingdon Avenue. Uber is creative as the named their offices Green Spot, where they cater same services as Lyft does. In comparison to their competitor’s incentive, Uber offers a more lucrative deal for drivers of $800 CAD after completing the first 100 rides. Armed with a smart web page and mobile app, they have started hunting drivers (with Class 4 license) silently. But the result still prove to be insufficient to this day.

Kater: Don Quixote of B.C.

Business in Vancouver wrote, “Kater confirmed Monday (September 9) it’s submitting an application to acquire a ride-hailing license from the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) and applying to operate in all five provincial regions outlined last month by the PTB.

“Our belief is that this is a service that is built in B.C. and we have a business model and a structure that works throughout the province. And if it’s good for those in the Lower Mainland, then it’s equally as good for those outside of the Lower Mainland,” Kater CEO Scott Larson told Business in Vancouver.

Among the eight ride-hailing applicants in B.C., Kater is arguably the smartest, unusually courageous and the most self confident in their business model. They never complained about the shortage of drivers, fare structures, and other restrictions. Where large corporations like Uber or Lyft dare not go beyond the boundary of Metro Vancouver, it is Kater and its CEO Scott Larson who says the company hopes to launch operations across Metro Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, and the Okanagan by this winter, with services in other B.C. regions rolling out over the next 12 months.

Why is Kater so capable? The company in its November News Letter (sent to the subscriber’s mailbox) claimed:

“In addition and in preparation for ride-hail, Kater has gathered the Province's largest class 4 driver database which will help us to launch Kater’s ride-hail services Province-wide”.

How did Kater gather a whole database of the B.C. drivers? Who assisted Kater in violating the privacy of over 50,000 citizens?

What is the link between Kater and the Vancouver Taxi Association? On the company website, Kater addresses several questions and answers such as:

“In order to be operational and drive under the current Provincial guidelines, at the moment, Kater - and any other ride-for-hire companies that want to operate here in Vancouver - need a license. Kater has been given 140 licenses by the VTA, however that is where the relationship ends”.

As a rideshare company, Kater assured the citizens… “Kater addresses congestion and pollution concerns by pledging that no more than 2000 of its cars will be on the road at any given time.”

What is the total number of taxi in Metro Vancouver?

Answer: 2,088

Vancouver should hope to win the battle of rideshare without the help of this Don Quixote whose fleets are more visible on its website than the streets.

The Labyrinth of Law and Regulation

If you have a class 4 driving license, don’t think that you are able to drive rideshare. It is only the beginning of an unending maze. A willing driver should be able to fulfill the following criteria, which will take at least 180 days as calculated by Uber.

The requirements are the following:

1. Driving license

• 21+ years old

• Accepted: Class 1, 2, or 4 (restricted or unrestricted).

Note: The Class 4 restricted license is the simplest to complete, and it meets B.C. ridesharing requirements.

• Not accepted: Class 5

Remember – To be eligible for a Class 4 license in B.C. you must:

• Be at least 19 years old

• Have a full privilege (Class 5 or Class 6) driver’s license - No 7L’s or 7N’s!

• Show your past 3 years of driving history, if you’re from another province or country

• Have fewer than 4 penalty points offenses

• Have no vehicle related criminal code convictions

• Have no outstanding fines or debts with ICBC

• Be able to complete and pass a medical exam

Note: Class 4 road tests cannot be booked online.

2. Owner's Certificate of Insurance and Vehicle Registration

• Vehicle must be 9 years or newer

• Must have 4 doors and 5 seats

• Cannot be rebuilt or salvaged

3. Driving Record

Obtain your Commercial Driving Record, commonly known as an (N) print or National Safety Code abstract from ICBC.

• If you have less than 3 years of driving experience in B.C. but have driven in other provinces, you'll also need to share your driving record from the other province(s) with ICBC. Requirements:

• No more than 3 minor violations in the last 3 years

• No major violations in the last 3 years

• If you have less than 3 years of driving experience in B.C. but have driven in other countries, your foreign abstract will not be accepted

4. Commercial vehicle inspection report

B.C. Commercial vehicle inspection report

• Need to pass a Commercial Vehicle Inspection at an approved facility.

Note: Other inspection reports will not be accepted.

5. Police Information Check (vulnerable sector)

6. GST account number

7. Proof of work eligibility

So, Dear Vancouverites, before enjoying the luxury of rideshare, you have miles and miles to go...