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Doug McCallum maintains ride-hailing services still not welcome in Surrey
VANCOUVER -- Uber is up and running in a relatively large section of Metro Vancouver, but residents of communities like Langley, Maple Ridge and Tsawwassen say they feel left out, with no ride-hailing businesses operating in the area.
The North Shore, the Tri-Cities, Burnaby, Surrey, Richmond and Delta are all some getting service, and Lyft is operating in what it calls the "core" of Vancouver, plus YVR.
Some customers living in Surrey reported service issues Friday, as portions of the city were not in Uber’s operating radius.
"Surrey needs Uber. Please, please, please hurry up," said Surrey resident Jason Lee.
He was just one of many people in the city voicing their frustrations about the rollout of ride-hailing.
"Surrey’s residents and Surrey’s businesses want it. Why isn’t in place right now?" said Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade.
The delays are being blamed on a shortage of drivers and red tape.
Many cities are waiting for the TransLink Mayors’ Council to release its inter-municipal business licence.
"We expect at the end of January or early in February, that the regional approach to regulation, we’ll be able to announce the details on that,” said Jonathan Cote, chair of the TransLink Mayors’ Council.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum said he’s not on board.
"Until I am assured that a level playing field is established, I will not be supporting the issuing of ride-hailing business licenses," the mayor said in a statement.
Cote said it’s not that simple.
"A city actually can’t refuse to issue a business license," he explained.
Any cities without a license requirement would fall under the provincial legislation.
"The other option though is the city could put its own regulations that might be too burdensome for a ride-hailing company, and in that case the ride-hailing company may choose not to operate in that city," Cote told CTV News.
Those who support the service are worried that patchwork policy across the region could lead to companies pulling out.
"We are the last jurisdiction in North America to get ridesharing, and our made in B.C. solution turns out to be the Mickey Mouse solution," said Dylan Kruger, a Delta city councillor.
Cote said operators who don’t get a business licence in cities that require them will only be able to drop passengers off.
They will likely not be allowed to pick up any additional customers, which is a similar policy to what taxi drivers face when crossing over a city boundary, potentially making those trips less profitable and less desirable for drivers.