Are you in Vancouver and excited about Lyft’s and Uber’s entry to the city? It’s time the city has its own ride-hailing app, something that bemuses the tons of tourists who come to Vancouver every year.
Now that the final hurdles in legislation have been passed, and Uber and Lyft are looking for drivers in the city, what should you expect?
Can Uber help you with a late-night drive home or go to Surrey from Granville Street on a Friday night? Can we look at a ride-hailing app like in Toronto now?
The Challenges Ride-Hailing Apps Like Uber and Lyft will Face in Vancouver
The city of Vancouver, with its pleasant weather, prospering economy and booming foreign investment, faces some major challenges in the commencement of the services provided by Uber and Lyft with British Columbia finally allowing the ride-hailing services in the city.
It should be remembered that it wasn’t easy for ride-hailing companies to start operating in the city.
When Uber first tried to expand its services in 2012, it received a blow only a few months later. The B.C. Passenger Transportation Board classified the service of the company as being a limousine and the minimum rate for limousines is $75 per trip, thereafter which, all the ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft and transportation network companies (TNCs) were unable to spread its services over the region.
The Top Challenges When Introducing Uber and Lyft to Vancouver
Some of these challenges relate to passenger safety records and congestion and emission, and ones that will continue to persist even after the introduction of ride-hailing services.
1. Pressure from the taxi unions
This accounts for the main reason the ride-hailing in B.C. is cornered. The local cab companies feel that they will be at a competitive disadvantage once the services are made to be available. A petition filed by a coalition of nine local taxi service providers argues that the ride-hailing services should not be allowed, under the circumstances that there might not be any restrictions on the number of the Uber and Lyft vehicles.
The taxi industry says that the policies that the transportation network services and an unlimited number of vehicles in a wide geographic areas compared with cabs all amount to “destruction competition”. The B.C. Taxi Association put forward that their reason for the protest is to get the same privilege as the ride-hailing services.
To make the competition on a balanced ground, the licensing and vehicle fees for taxi and limousine companies were set at the same price as ride-hailing companies.
2. Affordability crisis
Vancouver is now one of the least affordable cities in the world. While the middle and low income citizens find the cost of living accommodations beyond their reach, reliable transit have ceased to be an option for some. In a situation as this, the advent of ride-hailing services would come to no benefit to the mob.
3. Limited Number of Drivers
To get a class four license, one needs to take the test in four steps, each of which requires money. First, a knowledge test is conducted. Second, applicants driving skills are tested. Thereafter, the vehicle is inspected and lastly, a medical examination is conducted. In addition to these, the applicant is required to be at least 19 years old and his/her penalty points in the last two years should be less than four and he/she must not have any criminal convictions related to driving in the last three years. These criteria therefore restrict the number of drivers enrolling and ultimately getting into these car-based services.
Uber, in an interview with CTV News, stated that they would expand its services to other places like Victoria or Kelowna if the province would pass judgment over its proposal to allow drivers with the regular Class five licenses for those who have safe driving records.
On another note, there has been a question rising up on treating the drivers as employees. Vancouverites believe that minimum wage, vacation pay, and sick leave benefits should be a part of the pay package. Since Uber and Lyft have often either refused to comply or have left the jurisdiction entirely when governments look to impose these conditions, it’s to be seen how much of a role these companies have to play in Vancouver’s strictly regulated taxi industry.
4. The Question of Availability
According to President Kim Novak, if drivers are deemed to be employees, it would ensure a safer ride for both the driver and passenger(s) as this is issue of public safety.
As a major city where most of the citizens own a car, the arrival of the ride-hailing services would lead to measurably more traffic. According to an estimate by SFMTA, 50 percent of the traffic delays between 2010 and 2016 in San Francisco could be caused due to Uber and Lyft.
To have a check on the increased road congestion, new congestion and curbside stopping regulations were implemented. These regulations state that any ride-hailing services operating between the time span of 7 am and 7 pm will call for a Congestion and Curbside Management Permit (CCMP) while dropping off or picking up any passenger(s). For each pickup or drop off, the fee is 30 cents. There is a reduction of 50% for zero-emission vehicles and the fee is exempted for wheelchair accessible vehicles. This picking up or and dropping off fees would make the service less combative in comparison to the local taxis.
In a press release from the Vancouver City Council, the mayor Kennedy Stewart stated that he welcomes ride-hailing when it comes to eliminating traffic congestion.
North America’s transportation links up to a huge share of its carbon footprint. Vancouver, which currently is being able to cut down its emissions, may thereby add up to this share as a result of the car-based services.
5. Uber and Lyft have led to a decline in transit use in New York:
In spite of its broad subway system, there had been infrastructure problems and maintenance issues. On the other hand, Seattle’s investment in high-quality bus-routes has made for a booming transit.
Ride-hailing services tend to compete closely with public transportation. According to a recent study by UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, these services like Uber and Lyft are majorly preferred over public transportation by the citizens in major cities. For a city like Vancouver, this could have major take on its public transit, as aforesaid. Not only would it have the potential to threaten its infrastructure due to reduced use by the public, but also the competition may tend to hike up the fares. Consequently, such modes of transport would not be preferably affordable.
The cost of a license has reached up to more than $800,000. This not only implies that there is a shortage of cabs accompanied with an inflated price, but also that passengers in Vancouver, therefore, pay more for a cab than in Toronto or Montreal and 73% more for a five-kilometer ride than the passengers in Washington, D.C.
The tussle over ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft has been going on since 2011 and the new Provincial legislation has finally allowed the transportation network services, i.e., ride-hailing, as is often called, to expand its services in B.C. since September 16, 2019. Presently, these services are only accessible in Metro Vancouver, but we have hope that with time it will be legalized in the other cities too. The licensing bylaw amendments went into effect on 3rd October 2019 and the CCMP went into effect on 6th January 2020. The ride-hailing regulations keep into account passenger safety, increased mobility and accessibility in addition to reduced carbon emissions, controlled traffic, and affordability.
Ride-hailing in the United States
- In New York, rules are being set up by Uber on the time drivers can drive around without any passengers.
- In California, Uber proposed a $21-per-hour minimum wage for drivers after the state imposed a minimum wage and other protections for the drivers.
- In Seattle, the mayor announced a plan that would add a per-ride fee of 51 US cents on Uber and Lyft. The revenues would be directed toward housing and transit such that it would be affordable to the public. It will also ensure a minimum wage for the drivers. This plan, however, was opposed by both the companies.
So, what do you expect of Uber and Lyft now that they have got the green signal to operate in Vancouver?