Uber Canada is recruiting drivers in the Greater Victoria area, despite not having an operating license.
On Monday, Uber held a recruiting and information session for people looking to become drivers if the company expands to Victoria.
The rideshare company applied to the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) for a license transfer from another rideshare company to operate in Victoria as well as Kelowna in August.
The PTB is an independent tribunal in British Columbia whose primary responsibility is to make decisions on applications relating to passenger-directed vehicle authorizations within the province.
Last December, the Passenger Transportation Board rejected Uber’s application to expand into Victoria, saying that while the company is fit and capable of operating, its proposed expansion would harm existing rideshare and taxi companies attempting to recover from the pandemic.
Uber’s new application, however, is different in that it is not requesting a brand new ride-hailing license but seeking to transfer an existing unused license.
“One of the things we learned in our last application is that there are a lot of underutilized rideshare licenses out there in B.C.,” said Keerthana Rang, spokesperson for Uber Canada. “The PTB was looking to see how to consolidate some of those licenses. So this was our way. We heard them, so we found another rideshare company that we could work with this application on.”
She said that as the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be slowing down and tourism is back, there is a high demand for Uber’s services in the area.
She added the company plans to hire as many drivers as it can now in hopes they can start as soon as the operating license is approved.
Mohan Kang, president of the BC Taxi Association, believes these recruitment sessions are putting indirect pressure on the PTB to make a decision.
“They shouldn’t be doing it,” Kang said. “When they submitted their business and operation plan when they sent their application, everything was there and if they are already ready, then why hold these session to keep the indirect pressures on.”
He added if a license is approved for Uber, it will be taking a big chunk of the customer base away from taxis. Which he said is unfair.
According to Uber, the company operated in 140 municipalities across Canada, all with multiple rideshare, taxi and other transportation options sharing the same customer base.
“We find there is a balance and people will pick and choose depending on what works best for them,” Rang said. “This is just about bringing one more option to Victoria residents.”
There is currently no timeline on when the PTB will make a decision, but Uber is hoping to hear back before the holiday party season.