Vancouver will finally get its first ride-hailing app next week

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      To say Vancouver has waited a long time for ride-hailing services would be an understatement, but city-dwellers will be happy to know a taxi-riding alternative will become available next week.

      Local technology company, Kater, is gearing up to launch its beta phase of Vancouver’s first ride-hailing app on March 30.

      Similar to other ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, Kater users will be able to use their smartphones to order a car (known as Kater cars) for pick-up, get an estimated cost and arrival time for their trip, get the driver’s name and license plate, track the car, as well as pay and rate the driver via its app.

      During its beta phase, Kater will launch with a small sample of cars and users within the City of Vancouver. When the ride-hailing app fully launches in the following weeks, 140 Kater cars will be able to pick-up riders throughout Metro Vancouver and drop-off passengers anywhere within B.C.

      When fully launched, Kater's brand-new fleet will consist of 140 cars.

      “We are thrilled to be announcing the beta launch of Kater,” said Scott Larson, CEO of Kater, in a press statement. “Vancouver is a very unique city when it comes to transportation regulations and ride-hailing, and we believe Kater is the solution to many of the mobility dilemmas that have plagued us for too long.”

      According to a Kater press release, the Vancouver-based company aims to keep wait times under eight minutes. Its pricing is aligned with the rates set by B.C.’s Passenger Transportation Board, which are listed below:

      • Base fare: $3.25
      • Cost per minute: $0.56
      • Cost per kilometer: $1.88

      No surge-pricing will be applied during peak hours or bad weather.

      Kater drivers will make a minimum of $20 per hour.

      All Kater drivers have a Class 4 license, chauffeur permits, and are educated through a driver-training program. Its drivers are independent contractors, and paid a minimum of $20 per hour, with potential to earn up to $35 per hour.

      Each car in its brand-new fleet is installed with cameras, and will allow service animals. Kater will also aim to introduce accessible options over the next few months.

      Kater also clarifies that it is independently-financed and not linked to any political party. The ride-hailing app has been given 140 licenses by the Vancouver Taxi Association according to current provincial guidelines, “however that is where the relationship ends,” said Larson.

      Follow Tammy Kwan on Twitter @ch0c0tam and Instagram @ch0c0tam.