Four B.C. Okanagan mayors ask province to change licence requirement for ride-sharing drivers

Four mayors from the Okanagan region of British Columbia are asking the province to reconsider the commercial licence requirement for ride-hailing drivers.

The proposed legislation requires all ride-hailing drivers to hold a Class 4 commercial license. The Class 4 license is used by taxi and bus drivers, as opposed to the Class 5 license that most drivers have. Class 4 applicants must provide ICBC with a driver abstract and a police criminal record check before carrying passengers on the road.

The current NDP government in B.C. initially introduced the ride-hailing legislation on November 18th, 2018.

That allowed the province’s Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) to manage and set rules for ride-sharing companies. An all-party committee was formed in March to finalize the legislation that would allow ride-hailing services to hit the roads of British Columbia by Fall 2019.

B.C. Transportation Ministry says ride-hailing providers can start their application on September 3rd, 2019. However, companies like Uber and Lyft are not planning to operate outside of Metro Vancouver due to the Class 4 requirement.

Cities in Okanagan sees this Class 4 requirement as an obstacle for obtaining ride-hailing services in the region. West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milsom, along with the Sustainable Transportation Partnership of the Central Okanagan (STPCO), have sent a letter to the provincial government and asked it to review their ride-hailing policy.

The letter urges the provincial government to change the requirement for ride-hailing to Class 5. It also states that applying Class 4 will be hard for young people and new immigrants because the licence asks the driver to have two years of road experience.

“As a result, we’ll see longer wait times,” Milsom said when addressing the issue of limited mobility options in the region. “Companies like Uber and Lyft — they may not get enough drivers with a Class 4 to be able to participate.”

In response to the demands by the Okanagans, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said that the province already has 160,000 people with commercial licences that are valid for ride-hailing. ICBC statistics show Class 4 licenses are 13 percent safer than Class 5 license.

The ministry also will increase the number of Class 4 road test to meet the demands if needed.

“ICBC has anticipated the demand and has hired additional driver examiners to support increased Class 4 testing,” says in the statement by the government.

Source: CBC News