One more step toward ride-hailing in B.C. (Black Press Media file)

One more step toward ride-hailing in B.C. (Black Press Media file)

First ride-hailing licence approved in B.C.

Tofino company approved to operate in Lower Mainland, Whistler and parts of Vancouver Island

B.C. has approved its first ride-hailing licence.

The Passenger Transportation Board said Monday it has approved an application from Green Coast Ventures, based in Tofino, to operate in Whistler and Tofino.

According to the board’s decision, Green Coast, which operates as Whistle Ride, wants to focus resort communities such as those two because of the “unique transportation needs” there, namely the seasonal influx of tourists.

The company argued taxi companies cannot “scale up” to serve a sudden flood of people in peak seasons, the decision said.

Municipalities, labour groups and about 30 taxi companies submitted material for consideration as well, mostly arguing that ride-hailing will lead to more gridlock, pollution, and traffic-related deaths, predatory pricing, and the possible destruction of the existing taxi industry.

“The [Vancouver Taxi Association] argues that the only difference between taxis and [ride-hailing] providers is that [ride-hailing] providers deliver their services through an app,” the decision said.

The panel chair, Catharine Read, disagreed, saying the ride-hailing business model is vastly different from that of the taxi industry. Street hails and taxi stands, the board added, will still only be available for taxi drivers.

Minimum rates will be based on the local area’s taxi flag rates, the decision said, and there will be no cap on the size of Green Coast’s fleet.

The board said in a news release the next step is for the company to secure proper insurance and work with municipalities on their licensing requirements.

Premier John Horgan had been promoting his election promise to bring in ride hailing by the end of the year, and critics had wondered if it’d make the deadline.

READ MORE: Drivers’ conditions, wheelchair access top concerns ahead of ride-hailing in B.C.

At the same time, the transportation board said it rejected an application from LTG Technologies, whose trade name is Lucky to Go, to operate in the Capital Regional District, the rest of Vancouver Island, and the category that encompasses the Okanagan, Kootenays, Boundary, Cariboo regions.

The Victoria company’s application lacked proper documentation, its leaders lack experience, and its business plan “does not reveal an understanding” of the passenger transportation business, the decision said.

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