VANCOUVER - As the British Columbia government explores the potential impact of allowing ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, a number of such services have already been operating illegally in the province.

The Passenger Transportation Branch says at least seven app platforms are known to be in use by drivers and consumers in Metro Vancouver.

A news release issued by the branch last fall says the drivers, not the app developers, are assuming the risks of running an unlicensed commercial transit service and face fines of $1,150.

Branch director Kristin Vanderkuip told an all-party government committee meeting in Vancouver that $12,650 in fines have been issued to illegal drivers to date.

Ted Townsend, communications director for the City of Richmond where some of the illegal operations have been located, says officials are responding to the issue as they would with any business operating without a licence, but they're having difficulty identifying drivers.

Townsend says a provincial framework around ride-hailing businesses, which the government is exploring through hearings this week, will help cities do their part in licensing or prohibiting services.