11,500 vehicles in the Lower Mainland now licensed for ridehailing

Apr 14 2022, 11:37 pm

The number of vehicles within the Lower Mainland licensed to be used for ridehailing has reached 11,524 vehicles, according to new data from the City of Vancouver provided to Daily Hive Urbanized.

This also includes 783 zero-emission vehicles, commonly electric-battery vehicles, licensed for ridehailing.

But that does not necessarily mean all 11,524 vehicles are operating daily as point-to-point transportation services, whenever they are on the road.

According to a report by Uber last year on the makeup of their drivers in Metro Vancouver, 71% spend under 25 hours or less per week driving, including 46% less than 15 hours, and 21% between 15 and 25 hours. Many people drive for Uber part-time as a supplemental income to other work they are engaged in.

Within the Lower Mainland, there are now four times as many vehicles licensed for ridehailing than the number of licensed taxi vehicles — 2,860 taxis, including 2,635 within Metro Vancouver jurisdictions.

The municipal government was unable to provide a breakdown of the number of licences per ridehailing company, but it is of course widely known that Uber and Lyft account for the overwhelming majority of the vehicles. Other operators within the Lower Mainland include Kabu, Whistle Ride, and Lucky To Go.

The City of Vancouver is the regulator of ridehailing business licences under the Inter-Municipal Business Licence (IMBL) — a responsibility it has been granted by TransLink and participating Metro Vancouver municipal governments.

It handles the IMBL licences for Vancouver and 24 other jurisdictions across the Lower Mainland, which is BC’s Region 1 for transportation network services under the province’s Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) regulations. This includes Abbotsford, Anmore, Bowen Island, Burnaby, Chilliwack, Coquitlam, Delta, Harrison, Langley City, Langley Township, Lions Bay, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, North Vancouver City, North Vancouver District, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Richmond, Squamish, Surrey, West Vancouver, Whistler, and White Rock. The City of Vancouver was given the responsibility given that has the region’s largest ridehailing market share.

Moreover, the IMBL replaces the initial approach of standalone ridehailing business licences for each municipality. The IMBL is a regional licence, allowing vehicles to pick up and drop off passengers in all participating municipalities.

Annual IMBL fees are set at $155 per company, $150 per vehicle, and $30 per zero-emission vehicle. Wheelchair-accessible vehicles are exempt from the per vehicle fee.

To better enable them to compete with ridehailing, taxi companies in Metro Vancouver have been asking for the elimination of municipal taxi boundaries that limit where vehicles can pick up passengers, based on the home city of their taxi business licence.

bc region 1 metro vancouver taxi ridehailing statistics

Fluctuating number of trip volumes for taxis and Transportation Network Services (TNS), also known as ridehailing, within BC’s TNS Region 1 of the Lower Mainland and Sea to Sky Corridor. (Hara Associates/BC Passenger Transportation Board)

Previous data from the PTB suggests an overall shift from taxi capacity to ride-hailing capacity, based on demand trends, with previous taxi drivers shifting to Uber and Lyft. As of May 2021, within the Lower Mainland, ride-hailing trips were already outnumbering taxis by almost 2-1. Moreover, combined ride-hailing and taxi trips within the Lower Mainland recovered to about 89% of the total volume of trips previously completely dominated by taxis before the pandemic.

There is reason to believe that the gap between taxis and ride-hailing has further widened since the PTB findings a year ago. With that said, there are immense labour shortages across the BC economy, and the transportation industry, including the taxi and ride-hailing sectors, is one of the hardest-hit areas.

Both Uber and Lyft recently stated in their earnings that they saw strong regrowth in the global number of drivers and trips made in recent quarters, reaching pandemic-time highs. However, recent media reports suggest the companies are still struggling, especially in key major urban markets; last month, Uber announced it will add taxis to its app in New York City to help address its driver shortage, and earlier this week it was reported the company is planning to also add taxis to its app in San Francisco.

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