Don't count on ride-hailing services for New Year's Eve countdown
VICTORIA -- With just a day left in the year, only one ride-hailing company, which plans to operate in resort towns, has received approval from the Passenger Transportation Board to hit the road.
That means New Year's revellers in the busiest parts of the province still can't rely on the service to get home.
"It's not going to happen," ride-hailing advocate Ian Tostenson told CTV News.
He pointed out even if the approvals from the PTB came through on Dec. 30 or 31, companies would still need to deal with municipalities and arrange for drivers. While he thinks that could happen as quickly as in a few days, he doesn't believe that leaves enough time for the service to be in place for the final days of 2019.
Tostenson, who is also the CEO of the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association, said he's hearing of people cancelling plans.
"The difference this year versus last year is that we weren't promised to have it by New Year's or Christmas. This year people made plans around it."
In November, B.C.'s transportation minister told reporters in Victoria she was "very confident" the service would be in place by Christmas.
Then in December, just days before Christmas, CTV News received a statement from Claire Trevena echoing those same words.
- From Dec. 14: Minister still 'confident' ride-hailing will be operational by Christmas
- From Dec. 25: 'This is a broken promise,' Liberal MLA says to NDP over ride-hailing
Tostenson believes the province is trying to bring in a fair ride-hailing system. He pointed out union and labour groups, along with taxi companies, have mounted strong defences, which have led to some delay.
What he's looking for now is a clearer idea of when the app-based commuting option will be available.
"I think the Passenger Transportation Board has to show some leadership and tell the public – who want ridesharing – when we can expect to get it."
CTV News reached out to the PTB for comment and was told by email, "The Passenger Transportation Board is in the process of reviewing other ride-hailing applications and is unable to respond to interview requests from the media."
The spokesperson added the PTB had "no new information to share at this time."
CTV News also reached out to the province's transportation minister.
Trevena offered up a statement that read in part: "The timing of decisions on individual company's applications is up to the Passenger Transportation Board, which has been reviewing 24 applications received since September."
The emailed statement went on to say, "While we are disappointed that ride-hailing services are not yet operating, we respect the Board's independence and process which is meant to provide transparency to those impacted by Board decisions."
Both Uber and Lyft told CTV they are eager to set up shop and operate in Metro Vancouver.
The countdown to ride-hailing in the busiest regions of the province continues.