Uber and Lyft are finally on the road in the Lower Mainland, after the provincial Passenger Transportation Board approved the ride-hailing companies’ applications to operate.
But neither company is licensed to operate in Burnaby and “those operating without a licence could be subject to fines,” according to City of Burnaby spokesperson Chris Bryan.
In addition to the provincial approval, ride-hailing drivers are supposed to get business licences to operate in individual municipalities.
The City of Vancouver was ready to issue licences on the same day as the transportation board approval, according to Mayor Kennedy Stewart.
In Surrey, where Mayor Doug McCallum has strongly opposed ride hailing, there is no available business licence for the services. City staff there issued a warning ticket to an Uber driver who thought he was picking up a passenger in the city but had actually been tricked by bylaw officials, according to CTV News.
As of Monday, four days after provincial approval, the City of Burnaby hasn’t received any applications from companies or drivers for ride-hailing licences.
“Ride hailing is new in Metro Vancouver, and city staff plan to monitor the usage of these services to determine the best method to enforce our licence program,” Bryan said.
But Burnaby staff will not be running sting operations like in Surrey, he said.
In December, Burnaby council created a licensing scheme for the services, including the most expensive per-vehicle fee of any municipality in the region: $510. The fees mirror those the city applies to taxis.
“My main concern is that it's equitable,” Mayor Mike Hurley told the NOW in December. “Competition is a good thing, but everyone has to have a level playing field.”
Whether or not Burnaby ends up issuing any ride-hailing licences, the local regime is expected to be short-lived.
TransLink is leading the development of an inter-municipal business license for ride-hailing, which would apply across the Lower Mainland. The regional licence will likely be in effect by April, according to Bryan.