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Regulator denies Uber expansion across B.C., ‘not convinced’ of need outside Lower Mainland

Financial effect on taxi companies also taken into account
FILE – An Uber driver is seen in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The Passenger Transportation Board has ruled against allowing Uber to expand outside of the Lower Mainland and Sea-to-Sky area.

The board, which regulates vehicles such as taxis, ride hailing, intercity buses and limousines, explained its ruling in a 29-page decision released Tuesday (Dec. 14).

Uber was given a licence to operate in the Lower Mainland and Whistler region, in January 2020.

The company told the board that expanding its services across B.C. will benefit both residents who want to drive for or ride in Uber cars but also spur other companies to compete with it.

The board considered a number of factors, including a report into how passenger transportation services were affected by the pandemic. The report shoed that ride hailing’s introduction into the Lower Mainland and Whistler led to a “significant loss of market share on the part of taxis.”

Between May 2019 and May 2020, taxi trips fell by about 66.4 per cent, while ride hailing trips “rose rapidly.”

The board also looked at if there was a “public need” for another player to enter the field. Uber told the board that there was a need for the service, demonstrated by how many people in communities such as Kelowna and Victoria downloaded its app, “indicating a demand for Uber as a transportation option in these communities.”

Uber also cited research that suggested its arrival into cities led to a 3.6 to 5.6 per cent decrease in the number of people killed in alcohol-related crashes.

The board, however, found there was not a “public need” for Uber outside of the region it currently operates within and that its entry into the Lower Mainland led taxi businesses to “lose a significant share of the market” to ride hailing companies.

In a statement, Uber Canada said that the board’s decision was “surprising, disappointing and inconsistent with what we hear from communities like Victoria and Kelowna.

“There is meaningful public demand for ridesharing services, as demonstrated by the support from local community and business organizations, and the strong uptake of ridesharing in Metro Vancouver since we launched,” the company stated.

Uber said they would review the decision and decide on next steps in the coming weeks.

READ MORE: Uber Canada workers oppose company’s new pitch to provinces, say it lacks fair pay


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