Uber scrambles to get Richmond business licence

Uber is working with the City of Richmond to get its municipal business licence, a day after the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) gave it and Lyft the green light to start operating as ride-hailing services in the Lower Mainland.

Lyft received its business licence on Friday morning, but Uber hadn’t applied for one in advance of the announcement.

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Despite not having a licence, Uber started operations in Richmond at 8 a.m. Friday morning.

On Friday morning, Uber told the Richmond News it was planning to wait until the Intermunicipal Business Licence for Ride-Hailing (IMBL) – a mobile business licence - was in place. However, this is not expected to be ready until later this spring. TransLink’s Mayors’ Council will deal with the IMBL next Friday and then it needs to be passed by all affected municipal governments.

Later on Friday, Uber confirmed it was working with the Richmond city staff on municipal licensing.

The Vancouver International Airport confirmed Lyft and Uber have permission to operate at the airport.

Taxis and ride-hailing services need permission from the airport authority to operate at YVR as well as a business licence from the City of Richmond.

According to a press release, Lyft is currently accepting applications from interested drivers, and they’ve opened a “driver hub” in Richmond. They’ve also partnered with Valley Driving School to help anyone wanting to be a driver to get their Class 4 driver’s license.

In the past few years, there were seven ride-hailing businesses operating in Metro Vancouver with at least five in Richmond, including GoKabu, which was verified by the ministry to be based in the city.

An application for Kater Technologies to operate in the Lower Mainland was denied by the PTB.

Currently, only two, Lyft and Uber, are allowed to operate in Richmond after Thursday’s decision by the PTB.

In September, Richmond council approved an interim approach whereby ride-hailing could be licenced like taxis after they were approved by the PTB,  said Clay Adams, Richmond city spokesperson.

The Minister of Transportation, Claire Trevena, released a statement after the decision saying the government has being developing a “framework that puts passenger safety first,” and that the companies will comply with the “highest safety standards” on the continent.

“In the board’s decisions, it has committed to closely monitoring fleet sizes and minimum pricing to avoid potential impacts on traffic congestion and to ensure adequate incomes for drivers,” she added.

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