The Passenger Transportation Board — the authority that regulates ride-hailing and taxi services in B.C. — has announced that it is rejecting Uber’s application to expand into Victoria.
In September of 2020, Uber submitted an application to the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) that would allow it to operate in all regions across the province and, if approved, the ride-hailing giant had intentions to begin an expansion into the Capital Regional District.
Earlier this week, the Passenger Transportation Board released its ruling, rejecting Uber’s proposal to expand.
The PTB points to the ongoing pandemic and the impacts that COVID-19 has on transportation services such as taxi companies, as part of the reasoning behind its ruling.
The PTB suggests that adding ride-hailing options to new regions while demand for ridership is down would further hamper the ability of taxi companies to recover from the impacts of the pandemic.
“The Board is concerned that granting this Application at this time would unduly harm existing TNCs and taxi companies. It finds the markets in the Regions applied for are unable to absorb more competition at this time. Having given due consideration to all of the evidence and submissions, the Board refuses the Application at this time,” reads the decision.
The Board acknowledged that it sees Uber as fit and capable of providing the service outlined in its proposal, however, it believes there isn’t a public need to the expansion of ride-hailing into new regions at this time.
“In the current circumstances, however, the Board is not convinced that there exists a public need for the service applied for. Further, the Board considers that the Application, if granted at this time, would not promote sound economic conditions in the passenger transportation business in BC,” continues the decision.
The specific data outlined by the Board says that in the Capital Regional District, taxi trips declined by an estimated 26.6 percent between May 2019 and May 2021.
The PTB outlines that in “normal economic times” the application would have been approved, however, the impact of the pandemic creates a different landscape and “the economic interests of the transportation business overall weigh more heavily than the economic and financial interests of any particular applicant or submitter.”
The Board also points to data collected from Metro Vancouver, a region where Uber is operating, and says that ride-hailing has ” delayed the recovery of the taxi industry.”
According to Uber, between September 2019 and August 2020 a significant number of unique users have opened the Uber App in Victoria, indicating a demand for Uber as a transportation option in these communities.
Uber also pointed out to the PTB that a number of local businesses had shown their support for the ride-hailing company’s expansion.
The letters of support filed by Uber on October 12 indicate that the Application is supported by the Victoria Airport Authority, the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, the City of Langford, the BC Federation of Students, the Ending Violence Association of BC, MADD Canada, the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association, and the Victoria Police Department.
Despite Uber believing there is support and demand in the Victoria market, the Board ultimately opted to reject the proposal.
“In summary, the Board is concerned that granting this Application at this time would unduly harm existing TNCs and taxi companies. It finds the markets in the Regions applied for are unable to absorb more competition at this time,” reads the decision.
“Having given due consideration to all of the evidence and submissions, the Board refuses the Application at this time.”