Ride-hailing services like Uber could come to B.C. by fall 2019. (Mark Warner/Flickr)

Ride-hailing services like Uber could come to B.C. by fall 2019. (Mark Warner/Flickr)

Surrey, like the rest of B.C., could have ride hailing in 2019

Anita Huberman, CEO of Surrey Board of Trade, says it’s needed ‘to attract and keep business in Surrey’

Surrey, like the rest of B.C., could have ride hailing in place by this coming fall.

That’s the target Premier John Horgan has set.

“Ride hailing is coming this year,” he said. “The former government had half a decade to bring it forward and did not. We’ve had 18 months and we’re almost there.”

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum has said he opposes ride hailing in Surrey.

He was not available for comment.

“His position hasn’t changed,” Oliver Lum, communications manager for the City of Surrey, told the Now-Leader Wednesday.

Provincial Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena said in January that the mayor’s opposition is something he’ll “have to work through.”

“What happens in various jurisdictions I think is something the mayor is going to have to work through, but we’re looking at a provincial model,” she said.

Trevena, meantime, is at odds with a committee’s recommendation that Class 5 licences should suffice.

She says for safety reasons she wants participants to have a Class 4 commercial licence, the type held by cabbies and limousine drivers.

Critics have said the government’s plan will result in an expanded taxi industry rather than a ride-hailing service customers want.

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Stephanie Cadieux, Liberal MLA for Surrey South and deputy chairwoman for the all-party committee that examined ride hailing in B.C., said permitting only Class 4 licences will prevent part-time drivers – women in particular – from entering the ride-hailing market.

She took a shot back at the NDP government.

“The NDP introduced a supposed ride sharing framework that blocks major companies like Uber and Lyft from entering the market and when our caucus suggested changes to make this framework workable, we were ignored by both the government and the Greens.

“Now several months later the all-party committee has made the same suggestions. The NDP needs to put ideology aside and implement these recommendations to finally bring real ridesharing to B.C.”

Rachna Singh, NDP MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers, also served on the committee.

Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, says the board hopes ride hailing “can begin sooner rather than later.”

“We need transportation options such as the ride-hailing industry to attract and keep business in Surrey,” she said.

“Surrey Board of Trade members have made it abundantly clear that the transportation status-quo is not working.”

Ride hailing, as the committee defined it, is the provision “of immediate or on-demand service whereby a vehicle and driver are hired for a fee to transport a passenger, or a small group of passengers, between locations of their choice.”

The select standing committee on Crown corporations released its 48-page report, entitled Transportation Network Services: Boundaries, Supply, Fares, and Driver’s Licenses on Tuesday (March 26), with 32 recommendations.

It recommended that eligible drivers be at least 19, hold a Class 5 or 6 licence, have at least two years of non-learner driving experience, have a driving record with fewer than four offences that resulted in penalty points in the past two years, have no motor vehicle-related criminal convictions in the past three years, owe no fines or debts to ICBC, pass a knowledge test and road signs test to get a commercial learner’s licence, pass a road test including passing a pre-trip inspection of the vehicle, and pass a medical examination.

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As for the Class 4 licence requirement, such licences are required to drive a taxi, ambulance, or a bus or limousine with up to nine passengers.

Applicants must be at least 19, with two years of non-learner driving experience and driving records issued by every jurisdiction they have driven in for the past three years.

The testing for a Class 4 licence isn’t easy. ICBC reported to the committee that they see a 60-per-cent failure rate for the written test, which costs $15, a 20-per-cent failure rate for the pre-trip test and 40-per-cent failure for the first attempt at the road test for a Class 4 licence.

The road test for a commercial licence costs $40, the required medical exam is $28 and a $31 licence fee applies for people moving to B.C. and getting a new licence issued.

Vehicle inspections will also be required for ride-hailing drivers, and the committee recommended that vehicles more than 10 years old should not be used for ride hailing.

– with file Tom Fletcher


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