The B.C. government has released details of its regulations for ride-hailing services, including a $5,000 annual licence fee and 30 cents per ride to finance vehicles for disabled passengers.
A new ICBC insurance category for ride hailing vehicles is still in the works and will be ready by September, when licence applications are accepted and the regulations take effect. The Passenger Transportation Board will issue licences and set rates for each region, as it does with taxi services.
The regulations formalize the B.C. government’s decision to require class four commercial driver’s licences for ride hailing, the same licence required to drive a taxi or limousine.
Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the licence system allows B.C. to meet her latest pledge to have ride hailing operating by the end of 2019. The regulations take effect Sept. 16, and once businesses apply for a licence, decisions are expected within a month.
Uber, which along with U.S.-based competitor Lyft has been waiting for B.C. to join other jurisdictions around North America in legalizing smartphone-based ride hailing, issued a statement renewing its objection to the driver’s licence requirement. Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan allow Class 5 licence holders to drive taxis or ride hailing vehicles if their driver history meets strict standards.
“B.C. allows Operation Red Nose drivers to use a Class 5 licence,” Uber Canada spokesman Michael van Hemmen said. “Professional couriers operate with a Class 5 licence. British Columbians are allowed to drive a 40-foot RV or tow a large boat using a Class 5 licence.”
Updated regulations include allowing for side-entry vehicles for disabled passengers, as well as the rear-lift vans typically used by taxi companies. The 30-cent fee is to be applied to all trips that are not in disabled-access vehicles.
The $5,000 annual licence fee applies to each company, regardless of the number of vehicles to be operated.