Phone app connects driver and passenger in ride sharing systems. (Wikimedia Commons)

Ride-share pioneer drives up quietly to B.C. battleground

Lyft approaches B.C. without Uber bombast, eyes small towns

Ride-hailing pioneer Lyft has made its first move outside the U.S. with service in Toronto, and it approaches B.C. with an effort to cool the political battle over the taxi monopoly that has carried on past the spring election.

The NDP minority government has backed away from its election promise to introduce ride-hailing service by the end of 2017, prompting opposition MLAs to label Transportation Minister Claire Trevena the “minister of taxis” for stalling an update of B.C.’s regulations.

RELATED: Pre-election promise to introduce ride sharing

Uber has made most of the headlines in Metro Vancouver, signing up drivers and sparking accusations it wants to set prices below Passenger Transportation Board rates for the last big city in North America without ride-hailing services. Vancouver-based Flok and other startups are working around what amounts to a taxi monopoly with many complaints of poor service.

Chelsea Wilson, Lyft senior policy communications manager, visited Victoria last week. In an interview with Black Press, she stressed the company’s strategy to extend the options available to city dwellers.

“We don’t see ourselves as competing with any existing industry,” Wilson said. “We view it as competing with personal car ownership. And we believe we complement and supplement the existing options of the city, whether that’s taxis or transit.”

While big cities can have a variety of traditional and smartphone-based options, Lyft has moved on since it started in 2012 to include smaller communities.

“We just moved in the States from launching city by city to turning on entire states,” Wilson said. “That means we have coverage in dense urban centres but also more rural areas, and it’s a service that operates very well in rural areas. It’s not a full-time job for most people. Eighty per cent of our drivers drive 15 hours a week or less.”

Like other services, Lyft is emphasizing its safety measures, including background checks for drivers and GPS tracking of cars so people can track the movements of friends and relatives using the service.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Rachel Blaney ‘humbled’ as NDP incumbent earns second term

Blaney will remain MP in North Island-Powell River riding

Trudeau has won the most seats — but not a majority. What happens next?

Trudeau will have to deal with some of the implications of Monday’s result

LIVE MAP: Results in Canada’s 2019 federal election

Polls are now closed across the country

ELECTION 2019: Here are the results from our 12 B.C. races to watch

Incumbents mostly won our 12 key races, but there were a few upsets too

BREAKING: Canadian Press declares NDP’s Blaney winner in North Island-Powell River

Canadian Press is declaring NDP candidate Rachel Blaney as the winner in… Continue reading

Raptors Bling: NBA champions receive their rings in pre-game ceremony

There are over 650 diamonds — at a weight of 14 carats — in the 14-karat yellow gold ring

‘Find Trevor’: B.C. man’s dog leads searchers to rescue him after fall during hike

‘I’ve had lots of intelligent dogs, but Purple is in a class herself’

15 Canadian youths to sue Ottawa for not acting on climate change

They say young people will be more affected than other groups

Faster response may have prevented fatal outcome at B.C. trampoline park

Coroner’s report rules Greater Victoria father Jay Greenwood’s death accidental

100-pound pumpkin stolen a second time from B.C. business

According to security footage, a man and woman took the pumpkin on Oct. 20 at 8:20 p.m.

Greta Thunberg declines invitation to Victoria due to time, not ferry emissions

Thunberg confirmed that she will be joining a climate strike at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Friday

‘Havoc and chaos:’ Alberta separatist group gains support as Liberals re-elected

The idea is getting interest from people in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and parts of British Columbia

Feds decriminalizing drugs possible if Jagmeet Singh pushes for it, expert says

National pharmacare was one of Singh’s most highly-touted platform policies

In the news: Wexit, Brexit and Trump sparks outrage

There’s been a surge of support for an Alberta separatist group

Most Read