The Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) of British Columbia has released a new set of guidelines for ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft.
Refering to ride-hailing services as “Transportation Network Services,” the PTB states that there will be no limit on fleet size but this may be reassessed as performance data becomes available.
The PTB will also set the minimum rate that a ride-hailing service may charge based on taxi flag rates in the operating area and prohibit these new competitors from using “coupons or discounts” to charge below this minimum rate.
The guidelines don’t include a cap on the maximum that Uber or Lyft can charge, but rather focus on preventing ride-hailing services from charging less than the province’s existing taxi-flag rates that stand between $3.25 and $3.95. So be prepared for ‘surge pricing’ to kick in during busy periods.
The guidelines also allow ride-hailing services to have larger operating areas than taxis but promise to reassess existing taxi operating areas when more data is available.
One notable exception is ride-hailing services being prohibited from picking up passengers in the immediate vicinity around Canada Place on cruise ship days. According to the PTB, this geo-fencing is a safety measure to ensure that traffic can flow in the area and pedestrians can move safely.
Peter Lukomskyj, general manager of Lyft in B.C., said his company saw wins and losses in the policies laid out by the PTB.
“We appreciate the Passenger Transportation Board’s decision to establish an innovative model that does not include municipal boundaries and caps at this time,” he said. “While we are disappointed that the regulations do not include a provincial boundary, we are pleased that large geographic regions were taken into account.”
Lukomskyj said Lyft intends to eventually operate throughout the province, but he believes the Class 4 commercial licensing requirement will make it difficult to do so outside the Lower Mainland.