Vancouverites frustrated with lack of ride-hailing services in the city will finally have access to a new solution this month.
BC-based technology company Kater will launch the beta phase for what it’s calling “Vancouver’s first-ever ride-hailing app” on March 30.
Kater describes itself as a “technology company creating innovative transportation solutions.”
The Kater app is available for use on both Apple and Android devices. Once the app is downloaded and the registration process is complete you’ll be able to order a Kater car to pick you up. Kater owns a new fleet of cars that can only be hailed through the app. Drivers are required to have a Class 4 Chauffer licences.
Using the app, passengers can get an estimated cost for the trip, check who the driver is, track the vehicle and its arrival time, and pay for the rate and the driver.
Kater will be rolling out a limited fleet of cars during the beta phase. When they fully launched later this spring, Kater will have 140 cars on the road.
Kater cars will also only be available to hail in Vancouver during the beta period but Larson says consumers can be “dropped off wherever in the province they would like to go.”
As they scale up, Kater will allow for rides to be hailed across the Lower Mainland.
Kater is launching ahead of any other ride-hailing apps in BC and Larson says this is because the app adheres to the current taxi regulations.
“The current rules and regulations were set out and we chose to operate and adhere to all of the guidelines around passenger mobility and this option was available to whoever wanted to help provide a solution. Kater threw their hat into the ring and developed this app in order to meet the demand and help to provide a solution.”
Kater’s 140 licenses have been issued by the Vancouver Taxi Association, which has backed the company. But Kater says “this is where the relationship ends.”
“Operationally, Kater is completely separate; we own our own brand new fleet of cars which can only be hailed through the app and we have recruited and trained our own drivers to ensure a high level of service,” said Kater CEO Scott Larson in a release.
As for pricing, Kater’s fees are in accordance with the standard fees set by BC’s Passenger Transportation Board. The base fare is set at $3,25. cost per minute will be $0.56 and cost per kilometre is $1.88.
“Yes, this is similar to taxi rates,” said Larson. “The difference is and the great thing about Kater is there is no surge pricing.”
As for critics claiming Kater has an unfair advantage by releasing its app before other ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, Larson says Kater is “providing the here and now solution.”
“This opportunity was available to whoever wanted to be part of the Vancouver market. And what I would say is download the app, jump in Kater car, and be part of this new solution that we are providing as of March 30.”
In a statement to Daily Hive, rideshare company Lyft said that “Kater is a taxi service, not ridesharing, meaning itis subject to the same rules that make taxis unreliable.”
“Lyft provides drivers, the majority of whom drive part-time, with a flexible earning opportunity through which they can choose when and where works for them. This also ensures passengers can rely on affordable and convenient rides. While the regulatory structure that would enable ridesharing has yet to be seen, we are hopeful that the province’s upcoming regulations will enable us to launch Lyft in BC this year.”