Victoria may be snubbed by ride-sharing giant Uber

Victoria may be snubbed by ride-sharing giant Uber
WatchThe countdown is on for the introduction of ride-sharing in British Columbia. But Victoria residents may have to wait. That's because Uber says the province's requirements for drivers is too onerous. Mary Griffin reports.

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It’s available in more than 600 cities around the world.

But now Uber is warning Victoria may be left off that list if it can’t get enough qualified drivers.  The head of Western Canada Operations and Public Affairs for Uber, Michael van Hemmen, said the challenge is providing reliable, affordable service.

“The challenge is that we need enough drivers to be able to provide our service. Reliable, affordable service. We need government approvals to be able to operate,” van Hemmen said.

But the president of the BC Taxi Association,  Mohan Kang, disagreed. He said that Uber has had plenty of time to prepare.

“They knew they were coming. The government has been saying we’ll bring them in September or so,” Kang said.

The reason Uber thinks drivers will be hard to find is because of all of the hoops it says the province is making it jump through.

A potential driver needs a Class 4 license. Criteria also include a current BC Driver’s license, fewer than four penalty points in the past two years, and no vehicle-related criminal convictions within the past three years. And be at least 19 years of age. The fees add up to about $110.

“We’re asking the province to consider a pilot project across the province that would allow for safe drivers, who meet safety criteria that would allow them to drive in say Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba or Quebec,” van Hemmen said.

“And it’s typical for Uber to say, if you don’t give us this thing, we don’t operate here. But that’s not true,” Kang said.

Potential passengers appear to be split.

“I guess if they really want to do it it’s not much of a roadblock.”

“I think it would definitely be harder to recruit drivers.”

“Some of the drivers they have are not capable like the regular taxis here.”

We’ll know how many drivers step up soon. Ride-sharing companies start accepting driver applications on Sept. 3.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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