Uber approved to launch ride-hailing services in Victoria and Kelowna

May 10 2023, 8:42 pm

More than three years after Uber was able to expand into Metro Vancouver, the multinational giant is now set to launch its ride-hailing services in British Columbia’s next largest markets of Victoria and Kelowna.

The province’s independent Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) has just approved Uber’s application to transfer and obtain the existing ride-hailing licence held by ReRyde Technologies.

ReRyde received approval in August 2020 from the PTB to operate ride-hailing services in areas that include Victoria and the Okanagan regions. However, over the years, ReRyde has not actively used its license granted by the PTB.

In December 2021, the PTB rejected Uber’s original application to create a new ride-hailing operating licence for the markets of Victoria and Kelowna. At the time, the PTB stated it rejected Uber’s application due to the lower point-to-point transportation demand from the pandemic’s ongoing economic impacts, and asserted that allowing Uber to launch at that point would cause harm to already-struggling taxi companies.

Following the initial rejection, Uber pursued a different stream by applying in August 2022 to take over ReRyde’s license.

In a statement today in response to the PTB’s decision, Uber states it plans on launching in Victoria and Kelowna “soon” — just in time for the summer travel season — and will have more information in the coming days. Even though its services are currently not available in these markets, the company states tens of thousands of local residents have already signed up to ride.

In Fall 2022, representatives with Uber visited Victoria and Kelowna to begin the process of recruiting drivers in preparation for the possibility of the PTB’s approval of its application.

Lyft has yet to show a public interest in expanding to Victoria and Kelowna, and it has a smaller operating area within the Lower Mainland compared to Uber, which also serves portions of the Fraser Valley.

Since January 2020, when the PTB permitted Uber and Lyft to operate in Metro Vancouver, both ride-hailing giants have quickly taken over the market share of point-to-point transportation services. Even by May 2021, according to PTB data, one million trips were recorded on Uber and Lyft — far more than the 589,000 trips on taxis over the course of the month. Prior to January 2020, the market was completely dominated by taxis.

There is every reason to believe this shift from taxis to ride-hailing services has only accelerated even more with the return to normalcy and the recovery of the economy and tourism.

As of April 2022, about 11,500 vehicles in the Lower Mainland were licensed to be used for ride-hailing.

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