Long waits for ride-hailing have been a commonly reported experience on social media during Lyft and Uber’s infancy of legally operating in Metro Vancouver.
Over the past year, both ride-hailing giants continually argued the Class 4 commercial licence hurdle for drivers could severely limit the ability to provide a quality ride-hailing experience of relatively short wait times and a comprehensive service area.
Due to a lack of drivers that can adequately serve the demand expected from the size of Metro Vancouver, Lyft’s operations are temporarily constrained to central areas of Vancouver and Vancouver International Airport, while Uber’s initial service area misses the region’s outlying suburban areas.
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Ride-hailing legislation in Fall 2018 by the provincial government mandated Class 4 licences, the same required of taxi drivers. A report from an all-party committee that recommended ride-hailing drivers in BC not be required to hold a Class 4 licence was rejected by the BC Ministry of Transportation in June 2019.
With the Class 4 requirement established, there has been a spike in the number of Class 4 road test and knowledge test pass rates across BC, according to data provided by ICBC to Daily Hive.
Between May and December of 2019, there were 2,587 Class 4 knowledge test passes — an increase of 64% over the same period in 2018 when 1,578 passes were recorded.
For the Class 4 road test, ICBC recorded 2,359 passes between July and December 2019, representing an increase of 27% over the same period in 2018 when there were 1,855 passes.
This means there were just over 500 additional Class 4 licensed drivers in the province when pivotal announcements were made over the future of ride-hailing in the province.
The largest spikes in road test passes occurred in the months of August, September, October, and November of 2019.
On August 19, the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) announced it would begin to accept applications from ride-hailing companies on September 3, with the first decisions made in six to eight weeks. The number of road test passes in the months of Fall 2019 nearly doubled the same months of the previous year.
Interestingly, there was a 74% increase in the number of knowledge test passes in December 2019 compared to the same month in the previous year. Earlier in 2019, the provincial government stated ride-hailing would be on the roads in time for Christmas.
Here is a full breakdown of the Class 4 road test and knowledge test pass numbers:
- Class 4 road test passes:
- 2018: 304
- 2019: 374 (+23%)
- 2018: 319
- 2019: 546 (+71%)
- 2018: 260
- 2019: 464 (+78%)
- 2018: 225
- 2019: 443 (+97%)
- 2018: 229
- 2019: 419 (+83%)
- 2018: 241
- 2019: 341 (+41%)
- Class 4 knowledge test passes:
- 2018: 268
- 2019: 306 (+14%)
- 2018: 262
- 2019: 281 (+7%)
- 2018: 229
- 2019: 297 (+30%)
- 2018: 214
- 2019: 252 (+18%)
- 2018: 192
- 2019: 262 (+36%)
- 2018: 265
- 2019: 325 (+23%)
- 2018: 235
- 2019: 304 (+29%)
- 2018: 190
- 2019: 332 (+75%)
These numbers were achieved when there was continuing uncertainty over when Lyft and Uber would be allowed to operate, with much angst over whether the companies would even see their licences approved by the PTB and overcome the added costly hurdle of municipal/regional business licences.
With Uber and Lyft finally operating in the region, the knowledge test and road test numbers could conceivably see a significant increase. Prospective drivers are far more likely now to invest in the time and money to be a Class 4 licensed driver and ready their vehicle for ride-hailing.
Both companies encouraged prospective drivers to get their Class 4 licence in advance of ride-hailing. Amongst other callouts, Uber in July 2019 encouraged their Uber Eats drivers to obtain a Class 4 licence, while Lyft in September 2019 announced a partnership with a driving school to help prospective drivers pass their tests.
In an email, a spokesperson with ICBC stated they will increase the number of available Class 4 road test appointments to support any additional demand. As of Friday, there were multiple appointments available in the next 20 to 30 days across the province.