Phone app connects driver and passenger in ride sharing systems. (Wikimedia Commons)

Ride-share pioneer drives up quietly to B.C. battleground

Lyft approaches B.C. without Uber bombast, eyes small towns

Ride-hailing pioneer Lyft has made its first move outside the U.S. with service in Toronto, and it approaches B.C. with an effort to cool the political battle over the taxi monopoly that has carried on past the spring election.

The NDP minority government has backed away from its election promise to introduce ride-hailing service by the end of 2017, prompting opposition MLAs to label Transportation Minister Claire Trevena the “minister of taxis” for stalling an update of B.C.’s regulations.

RELATED: Pre-election promise to introduce ride sharing

Uber has made most of the headlines in Metro Vancouver, signing up drivers and sparking accusations it wants to set prices below Passenger Transportation Board rates for the last big city in North America without ride-hailing services. Vancouver-based Flok and other startups are working around what amounts to a taxi monopoly with many complaints of poor service.

Chelsea Wilson, Lyft senior policy communications manager, visited Victoria last week. In an interview with Black Press, she stressed the company’s strategy to extend the options available to city dwellers.

“We don’t see ourselves as competing with any existing industry,” Wilson said. “We view it as competing with personal car ownership. And we believe we complement and supplement the existing options of the city, whether that’s taxis or transit.”

While big cities can have a variety of traditional and smartphone-based options, Lyft has moved on since it started in 2012 to include smaller communities.

“We just moved in the States from launching city by city to turning on entire states,” Wilson said. “That means we have coverage in dense urban centres but also more rural areas, and it’s a service that operates very well in rural areas. It’s not a full-time job for most people. Eighty per cent of our drivers drive 15 hours a week or less.”

Like other services, Lyft is emphasizing its safety measures, including background checks for drivers and GPS tracking of cars so people can track the movements of friends and relatives using the service.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Sooke Food Bank hits the open road

Food bank buys new van after grant from Food Bank B.C.

RICKTER SCALE: Rubber on the rebound

Rick Stiebel | Columnist When it comes to Vanity Fair, you can’t… Continue reading

Secret Garden Tour returns to Sooke

10th annual fundraiser takes place June 3

Sidney fundraiser helping kids fight diabetes

Nicola Politano organizing May 26 dance at the air cadet hall

Sooke Arts Council seeks submissions for book project

As an artist or writer, there is no better feeling than seeing… Continue reading

VIDEO: Canadian Forces help flood-ravaged Grand Forks residents heal

Sgt. Bradley Lowes says the military is used to dealing with traumatic times

Central Vancouver Island man dies in single-vehicle collision

Pickup truck with three occupants went off the road near Port Alberni

Watch: Saved from highway harm, ducklings waddle into Swan Lake

Saanich Pound rescue, release ducklings in cute video

UPDATED: Grand Forks looks towards recovery as evacuation orders begin to lift

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

B.C. Lions bring back 6-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye

He was acquired by the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Vancouver climbed out of a two-nil hole to tie FC Dallas 2-2

B.C. VIEWS: Making sense of climate policy

Flood and fire predictions have poor track record so far

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Most Read