With the door now open for ride-hailing companies to apply for an operating licence in BC, one such operator is hoping to help potential drivers get fully up to speed when it comes to being properly qualified.
On Monday, Lyft announced a new partnership with Valley Driving School today, in an effort to help prospective drivers obtain their Class 4 licence.
Lyft said these free education sessions will help drivers learn more about a day in the life of a Lyft driver, requirements for a Class 4 Licence and tips for how to prepare for the knowledge and road tests.
The sessions will be offered twice a week at three locations in Vancouver, Surrey, and Langley starting on September 30.
As per provincial regulations, ridesharing drivers must obtain a Class 4 licence, which requires that drivers take two tests: a knowledge test and a road test.
“These tests can create a long, expensive and challenging process for drivers, which is why we want to help,” said Peter Lukomskyj, GM for Lyft BC.
He added that those interested in finding out more information, or looking to register for the sessions can do online.
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Despite a report from an all-party committee earlier this year that recommended rideshare drivers in BC not be required to hold a Class 4 licence – the same required of taxi drivers – to operate, BC’s Transportation Minister Claire Trevena is pumping the brakes on that idea.
In its report, the committee said members agreed that ensuring safety “is paramount.”
However, there was uncertainty around whether or not the Class 4 licensing process “actually produces safer drivers.”
And this past summer, Uber expressed concerns that the Class 4 license requirement could mean that operating beyond the Lower Mainland may not be viable.
In a statement to Daily Hive, Uber’s Michael van Hemmen said the company wants to be able to operate in communities across BC.
However, “we need to conduct further analysis before we can determine the viability of operating outside Metro Vancouver under the BC government’s driver requirements,” he said.
Ridesharing services, he furthered, “need a critical mass of eligible drivers in order to deliver the quality of service our customers expect. The Class 4 licence requirement makes that much more difficult.”
Trevena responded to the committee report by penning a letter to the Passenger Transportation Board, stating that she does not support the recommendation that drivers be allowed to operate solely with a Class 5 license – the standard licence of issue in BC.
“I am a firm believer in safety and believe that a commercial class 4 driver licence provides a safer atmosphere for passenger directed vehicle movements, with extra testing and a medical examination completed at time of application and in routine intervals thereafter,” she wrote.
Her response was in line with what has been her stance on the subject, even before the report was released.
In an interview with Daily Hive last fall, Trevena also cited the need for safety as the reason she would like to see all drivers hold the Class 4.
“If you’re going to be earning money through driving people from place-to-place, you need to make that investment so that you can show you are safe,” she said at the time. “Anyone getting in as a passenger wants to know that the driver is as safe as possible.”