Burnaby's expensive ride-hailing licence to be replaced by regional system

The local $510/vehicle licence will likely be 'very short lived,' mayor says

The most expensive ride-hailing licence in Metro Vancouver will probably be “very short lived,” according to Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley. 

Earlier this month, Burnaby council approved a licensing scheme for ride-hailing apps,  including a $510-per-vehicle fee. The comparatively steep fee would put companies such as Uber and Lyft on a level playing field with taxis, Hurley said at the time.

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But the local plan will be replaced by a regional business licence as early as next month. Last week, Metro Vancouver mayors approved TransLink’s plan to develop an inter-municipal business licence, with an interim system in place as early as January 2020, followed by a permanent licence by the end of 2020. 

“Ride-hailing's going to happen, so we have to come up with a plan amongst the mayors and amongst our councils to have something that is workable,” Hurley said.

Once the interim regional licence is in place, Burnaby will likely discard its licensing system, he said.

Hurley said he had expected the regional licence to come into force much later than January, but a “push” from the province convinced him and other mayors they needed to act quicker or potentially lose control over some aspects of the industry.

The Burnaby mayor said he hopes TransLink proposes a regional licensing system that includes taxis. If not, he said, Burnaby will likely bring its local taxis regulations in line with the regional ride-hailing system.

“My main concern is that it's equitable,” he said. “Competition is a good thing, but everyone has to have a level playing field.”

On Monday, Green Coast Ventures became the first ride-hailing company to get approval to operate in B.C. from the Passenger Transportation Board. The Tofino-based company plans to operate as Whistle in smaller resort communities outside the Lower Mainland, including Tofino, Ucluelet, Whistler, Pemberton and Squamish.

U.S.-based ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft are both still awaiting the go-ahead from the provincial regulator. In statements to the NOW, both companies said they support the plan for a regional licence in Metro Vancouver but did not say whether they specifically plan to operate in Burnaby. 

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