Mayors’ Council endorses single, inter-municipal business licence for ride-hailing

Jan 31 2020, 2:19 pm

After the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation (MCRT) passed a motion in December greenlighting the creation of a single, regional Inter-Municipal Business Licence (IMBL), the MCRT announced its official endorsement of the licence today.

During an in-camera meeting, the council released the details of the agreement on an interim inter-municipal business licence (IMBL) bylaw for ride-hailing companies wishing to operate in the Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Squamish-Lillooet regional districts.

The bylaw was developed by a group comprised of staff from various municipalities, along with support from TransLink and the provincial government. Now, the council said it is “urging” municipal governments to begin adopting the proposed bylaw as soon as possible.

The proposed bylaw provides a single set of requirements for all participating municipalities, making rules clear for companies and drivers.

Under the IMBL, ride-hailing companies would be able to obtain one licence to operate, as opposed to separate business licences for each municipality in Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) Region 1, which the council said could become “administratively onerous and expensive.”

The IMBL has several requirements and processes for ride-hailing companies wishing to operate locally. These include:

  • Ride-hailing companies would pay a $155 annual per-company fee and an additional $150 charge per-vehicle;
  • The per-vehicle fee will be waived for wheelchair accessible vehicles;
  • The per-vehicle fee will be discounted by $30 for zero-emission vehicles;
  • The City of Vancouver will administer the interim IMBL, collecting fees and trip data which will be distributed to participating municipalities each month.

Fees and regulations associated with the IMBL would be in addition to requirements under the provincial government’s ride-hailing legislation. The bylaw will be shared as municipalities begin bringing the bylaw to their municipal councils for adoption.

“The development of the inter-municipal business licence has demonstrated how our region can work collaboratively together,” said council chair and mayor of New Westminster, Jonathan Coté. “The framework that has been developed gives cities a say in managing our roadways while keeping the application process simple and reasonable.”

The industry, he furthered, “has the potential to improve transportation options in our region, if we take steps to properly manage it.”

The council noted the creation of the IMBL also involved cooperation across regional districts.

“Trips don’t always start and end within the same community,” said Sqaumish Mayor Karen Elliot. “The IMBL will create streamlined processes and rules to support reliable service across the Lower Mainland and the Sea to Sky region.”

Elliot said the IMBL is “a common-sense approach that will provide us the data we need to make sure this type of transportation service works for citizens and local government.”

The proposed interim framework would be in place until a permanent IMBL can be developed.

In the meantime, the council is urging the provincial government and the PTB to level the playing field for taxis and ride-hailing companies by reviewing taxi boundaries, fleet caps and insurance requirements, and ensuring that a mechanism is put in place to subsidize approved ride-hail vehicles or taxis that provide adequate accessible services for customers who rely on mobility devices such as wheelchairs and scooters.

The council said it is also encouraging municipalities to harmonize current municipal fees for taxis with fees set out in the IMBL, as well as asking to meet with the PTB and provincial government to understand how progress on these issues can be made.