BC Transportation Minister "welcomes" approval of first ridehailing application

Dec 16 2019, 2:57 pm

After the approval of the first ridehailing licences for BC was announced on Monday, BC’s Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said she “welcomes” the decision.

“People want to see ridehailing vehicles on the road as soon as possible – myself included,” she said. “We are hoping to hear of more decisions in the very near future.”

Her comments come after the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) shared today that it has  granted the application for Whistle, operated by Green Coast Ventures Inc. It will operate within the provincial ridehailing zones of Region 1 within the Lower Mainland and Whistler, as well as Region 3 within Vancouver Island, but excluding the Victoria region.

The company has not immediately indicated when it will launch, now that its application has been approved. Several major municipalities in Metro Vancouver have already mandated their own ridehailing business licences and fees — for both companies and vehicles — within their jurisdictions, which adds another layer of regulation before ridehailing vehicles can begin service. But the municipal approach to business licences in Metro Vancouver could be replaced by a simplified single regional licence sometime in the new year, based on the decision made by TransLink’s Mayors’ Council last week.

According to the bulletin, Whistle intends to offer wheelchair-accessible vehicles as part of their service. Green Coast was originally incorporated nearly two decades ago as Tofino Bus Services, and their application for ridehailing specifically relates to operating services in the resort communities of Tofino/Ucluelet and Whistler/Pemberton/Squamish.

“Whistle is a ride-hailing app focusing on resort towns, where the struggle for transit solutions during peak times is the greatest. The Whistle app matches other industry leaders in quickly connecting passengers with certified drivers, for an upfront fare, from customers’ phones,” reads the company’s application.

Asked about the approval of a smaller-market, limited-range operator, as opposed to a larger-market, wider-range operator such as Uber or Lyft, Trevena said approval decisions ultimately rest with the PTB.

“The PTB is responsible for it decisions on the applications they’ve received,” she said. “They’ve been working through them, and I think everyone is aware its been taking time to work through them , but its up to the PTB to approved the applications in the order they wish to approve them.”

In its first year, Whistle plans to operate 15 vehicles in Region 3, and 30 vehicles in Region 1, with expansion plans focusing on small towns such as Courtenay and Parksville/Qualicum. The company plans to eventually service the Lower Mainland, but most likely for the transportation demands of smaller communities.

Today’s bulletin also indicates LTG Technologies’ Lucky To Go application has been rejected. It applied to operate in zones elsewhere in the province — not in the Lower Mainland.

With files from Kenneth Chan