Ride-hailing companies like Uber will operate in B.C. with minimum rates and without maximum rates, province says

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      Today (August 19) the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) finally unveiled answers to some of the biggest questions about how ride-hailing will operate in B.C.

      There will be no limit on the number of Uber and Lyft drivers offering rides, PTB board chair Catharine Read announced this afternoon.

      There will also be no limits on surge pricing, meaning Uber and Lyft’s algorithms can increase rates during rush-hour periods and special events with no caps on maximum per-minute prices.

      There will however be limits on minimum charges.

      The PTB has said that ride-hailing services operating in B.C. cannot charge less than the province’s existing taxi-flag rates that stand between $3.25 and $3.95.

      “There will be dynamic pricing,” Read said. “But there will be a floor at the taxi flag rate.”   

      Predictably, the B.C. Taxi Association is less than thrilled with today’s news.

      “The association is very concerned,” president Mohan Kang told the Vancouver Sun. “When we see that there is no cap on the [number of ride-hailing drivers allowed to operate in B.C.] that will be something like when you are flooding a market.”

      Uber, Lyft, and other ride-hailing companies can apply for a new classification of license to operate in B.C. beginning on September 3.

      Drivers intending to work for one of those corporations (as independent contractors, of course) will have a tougher time doing so than residents of most other jurisdictions, however.

      UberX (the transport service that most people just call "Uber") has been available in other North American cities since 2012.

      Earlier this summer, the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure made clear that in B.C., one will not be allowed to drive for Uber or Lyft simply by downloading an app.

      Instead, drivers will be required to obtain a Class 4 licence and undergo criminal-records and driver-records checks.

      Lyft Canada managing director Aaron Zifkin expressed befuddlement upon learning of those requirements.

      "Lyft does not currently operate ride-sharing in any jurisdiction that requires drivers to change their driver’s licence to a commercial driver’s licence," he said.

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