Metro Vancouver's Tri-Cities nearing a unified business license for rideshare

Nov 26 2019, 6:30 pm

The Tri-Cities of Metro Vancouver — Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, and Coquitlam — are one third of the way towards creating a single inter-municipal business license for ridehailing services operating within their unified subregion.

Earlier today, Port Coquitlam city council approved their support for the interim measure of an inter-municipal business license for ridehailing across all three municipalities, until a single regional business license is created.

The plan is also expected to receive approval from Port Moody city council later this evening.

TransLink and the provincial government are currently facilitating discussions for a single regional business license across all 23 local jurisdictions in Metro Vancouver to avoid the complex and costly scenario of each municipal government enforcing their own license and fee structures.

To this end, the Tri-Cities are proposing to implement their license as a temporary measure, until a single regional business license is ready after one or two years of discussions between the various jurisdictions.

All three North Shore jurisdictions — West Vancouver, North Vancouver City, and North Vancouver District — are also expected to establish a partnership creating a similar inter-municipal business license.

Municipal governments have the authority from the provincial Passenger Transportation Board to establish such licenses, as long as they do not regulate fleet size and service areas.

“The process to implement a regional inter-municipal business licence, once agreement is reached on terms, is expected to be lengthy given the number of municipalities that would need to concur with the proposal and decisions to be made in setting up a body to regulate and administer the licencing arrangement,” reads a City of Port Coquitlam staff report.

The City of Coquitlam, with its greater resources, will collect license fees on behalf of the City of Port Coquitlam and City of Port Moody. Coquitlam will receive a higher share of 40% of the license revenues to offset its administrative costs, while the other two partner cities will each receive 30%.

The Tri-Cities ridehailing business license structure would establish an annual $1,000 fee for companies with up to 25 vehicles, $2,500 for companies with 25 to 100 vehicle, and $5,000 for companies with over 100 vehicles.

There would also be a $0.10 per-trip fee for every trip that begins in the Tri-Cities, with exemptions for accessible vehicles and zero-emission vehicles. No drop-off fee will be implemented.

This contrasts greatly with the City of Vancouver’s approach, approved by its city council in September of this year.

Vancouver’s municipal ridehailing business license will enforce a $155 annual company license, plus $100 annually per vehicle, with exemptions for accessible and zero-emission vehicles. Every day from 7 am to 7 pm, a $0.30 per pick-up and $0.30 per drop-off fee will be in effect for the Metro Core — the area defined as the entire downtown Vancouver peninsula and the Central Broadway Corridor.

According to the City of Port Coquitlam, ridehailing companies Uber and Lyft support the proposed interim subregional measures of the Tri-Cities and North Shore and the eventual creation of a single regional business license.

Port Coquitlam mayor Brad West previously told Daily Hive separate ridehailing business licenses for each municipal government, just like what has been approved for Vancouver, will result in a “complete hodgepodge system of fees” that make regional ridehailing services unfeasible.

Without a single regional business license, he says it is likely drivers will pick and choose select municipalities with the greatest potential for their business based on city size, population density, and whether they have key points of interest.

“The logical thing to do, if I were a driver, would be to pay the fees to operate in Vancouver and Richmond, so that I have downtown and the airport covered,” said West, emphasizing that suburban municipalities in the outlying areas of the region will lose out on ridehailing, even though they are the jurisdictions that stand to benefit most. He says a single regional business license is the “common sense” approach.

“I know people in my community are sick to not being able to get back to Port Coquitlam from downtown Vancouver or maybe from Braid SkyTrain Station to their home because of the very poor taxi service we have out in this area and the lack of public transit options… Cities like Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, and Langley are really the communities that are most in need of that sort of last mile service.”