While popular ride-hailing service Uber had made some headway in Vancouver Island’s transportation sector, it had never fully realized its ultimate ambition — until now.
Uber’s flagship service has finally broken into the Victoria market, by way of a license transfer from another company.
The news broke Wednesday following a prolonged effort for approval from the Passenger Transportation Board.
The company, which already operates its UberEats service in the Capital Region, has been making a steadfast effort at bringing more of its services to Vancouver Island after launching in the Lower Mainland in 2020.
On Monday, it announced a rental service that would offer customers a new way to access rental cars through companies like Hertz, Avis, and Budget.
Earlier this year in April, Uber announced it would soon be delivering cannabis products around Victoria.
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However, despite many attempts, it was never able to secure the ride-sharing services it had long desired, until this recent breakthrough.
Over the years, several speed bumps delayed the company from expanding to the Island. In December 2021, the Passenger Transportation Board denied an application it had made to operate in Victoria citing concerns about the potential harm it could cause to existing taxi services that were still recovering from the pandemic.
The following summer, Uber tried to skirt the ruling by purchasing another ride-sharing company’s license.
It was a loophole that some applauded, and others criticized.
At the time, Victoria’s former Mayor Lisa Helps welcomed the proposal.
“We’ve heard from local businesses, entrepreneurs and our hospitality industry that there is an immediate demand for these services,” Helps said.
However, not everyone was so keen on the idea. In an earlier interview, the president for the BC Taxi Association, Mohan Kang called the move “unethical.”
“We, in the taxi industry, cannot survive with the unfair competition,” he told CHEK News back in August.
The BCTA was one of several cab companies that submitted written statements opposing the approval, while travel and tourism hubs including the Victoria International Airport, Destination Greater Victoria and Harbour Air supported it.
In the 60-page decision document, it was revealed that 40 organizations expressed interest in Uber being granted permission to operate in Victoria and Kelowna. However, out of those 40 parties, only seven were in favor of Uber’s ride-hailing service.
“The board reviewed and considered all submissions in making the decision,” reads page 12 of the document. ” In doing so, the Board gave less weight to general statements not supported by facts and irrelevant information.”
— Uber Canada (@Uber_Canada) May 10, 2023