Increasing number of ride-hailing apps operating illegally
The biggest names in ride-hailing still aren’t operating in Metro Vancouver, but local competitors are opening up shop despite heavy fines and investigations from provincial authorities.
While Uber has been analyzing the market, participating in multi-governmental panels and preparing to launch upon legalization anticipated in the fall, some small upstarts are trying to get the jump on their competition.
Some Chinese language apps have been operating under the radar of provincial regulators and civic officials since last spring, but now an English language operator has quietly begun accepting fares in Metro Vancouver.
ReRyde has been soliciting customers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram since November while trying to recruit drivers on multiple platforms, including Craiglist, where a posting says they’re hiring 150 people for the region.
When contacted by CTV News, a reply came from Reban S-N, who identified himself as CEO of ReRyde Industries. He described ReRyde as a “Vancouver born company and our heart is Vancouver. We will position ourselves against heavy hitters like Uber and Lyft by charging lower rates and by paying our drivers more as well—guaranteed.”
When it comes to the law, he said: “We look forward to the government finalizing legislation in a timely manner, but until then, common sense and the needs of our fellow citizens must be met.”
Ultimately, ReRyde and other ride-hailing apps investigated by the Passenger Transportation Branch aren’t the ones facing consequences. Of the nine companies under investigation, including Longmao, Udi Kuaiche, RacoonGo and U Drop, only their drivers will face fines and tickets for operating illegally.
In an email, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says, “The PTB has issued over 20 cease and desist orders to vehicle owners and 11 violation tickets to drivers, for $1,150 each.”
Officials warn drivers’ insurers could also penalize them for not disclosing their vehicles are being used for commercial purposes.
Officials at the city of Surrey and city of Vancouver say its squarely in the province’s bailiwick to handle the issue, and they’re not getting involved.
In an email statement, the city of Vancouver pointed out representatives had addressed the Standing Committee on Crown Corporations that had solicited feedback on ride hailing over three days.
“The city indicated that enforcement is a high priority for municipalities on this regional issue, and that individual municipalities are not equipped to do enforcement.”
When CTV News took the question of illegal rideshare apps to the streets, we were met with a mixed reactions.
Some people wanted to do more research, but it was roughly a 50-50 split between those willing to use illegal ride-sharing apps and those who thought it was a bad idea.
Everyone we spoke to agreed that it was time for the province to give the green light to all ride-hailing apps, which are in use in most major cities in North America.
Last week, representatives from the taxi industry and Uber met with an all-party committee of the B.C. legislature to discuss a solution to Metro Vancouver’s taxi shortage.
The Vancouver Taxi Association pitched an all-one-one app that would connect customers with all available cabs in their area.
Meanwhile, Michael van Hemme, Uber’s public policy manager for Western Canada, disputed the idea that the region’s cab market doesn’t have room for both taxis and app-based ridesharing services.
An all-party committee is currently in the process of studying how to implement ride-hailing services in the province while protecting the taxi industry.
Regulations to allow legalization will not be introduced until the fall, at the earliest.