The Passenger Transportation Board recently approved two different ride-sharing companies—one of which will stay in the Lower Mainland area and Whistler, and another which will operate province-wide, including in northern B.C.
No other ride sharing company had been approved for Burns Lake and area until now.
“Our company was founded in 2016 by a couple of post-secondary students… They had a vision of creating an app that would help people socialize. Instead the app was being used for ride hailing,” said Martin van den Hemel, communications director for Gokabu, the company that runs Kabu ride-sharing service.
“So, in 2016, they pivoted their business plan, buoyed by the fact that the Liberal government of the day was promising to bring in ride hailing by the end of 2016…. That didn’t happen. And when the NDP came into power, they made similar promises for 2017, 2018, and 2019,” he said, adding that the company was able to operate in what he called “grey space” before more strict ride-sharing legislation came into effect. They were running only in Richmond, BC during those years.
The company then had to put a stop to their services until getting the recent approval from the Passenger Transportation Board.
Now they can branch out, but they need a sufficient number of people in each community to make it work. In Burns Lake, for example, based on the population of just under 2000 residents, they would need 5-6 drivers, said van den Hemel. Each driver could make around $25 per hour.
But while it gives locals a chance to participate and make some money, the company doesn’t allow just anyone to become a driver. There are multiple hoops to jump through first, and after someone is successful, they’ll still be monitored.
“All of our drivers would have to be vetted… They would have to have a class 4 license, class 2, or class 1 license,” said van den Hemel.
“They would have to pass a vulnerable sector criminal record check… They would also have to pass our own screening system to make sure that they were suitable. As well, they would need to have a three years driver’s abstract,” he said.
And each person’s cell phone will have an app that works as a “telematics” system, which monitors things like speed they’re driving, and if the driver is stopping or starting too fast, he added.
Randi Amendt, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, shared a few thoughts via email with the Black Press.
Amendt welcomed the opportunity to have such a business in town, though had not yet heard news of it.
“Our community does not currently have a taxi or ride-sharing service, so the thought of bringing in such a service would be very beneficial to our area,” wrote Amendt.
“As the Visitor Centre, we regularly receive phone calls from people requesting means of transportation in our community. We are unable to provide them with such a service and this can be quite a deterrent to visitors.”