ReRyde & Kater denied ride-hailing approval, shutting out some B.C. cities

Residents on Vancouver Island, in the Interior and in northern B.C. have been left in the cold after the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB)  rejected ride-hailing applications from companies wanting to operate in those regions, despite approving Uber and Lyft in the Lower Mainland and Whistler.

The board announced its decision in a statement Thursday.  Applications from companies such as Kater Technologies Inc. and ReRyde Technologies Inc. were both turned down. 

In its decision for ReRyde, the board said it had concerns with the company's business plan which currently has 3,700 drivers operating outside of the province. It said the company's current proposal for B.C. would "undoubtedly" require more drivers and vehicles to operate. It also said driver training consists only of a YouTube video which is customer service oriented.

ReRyde's director of operations, Jamil Chaudhry, called the decision disappointing.

"There is so much misinformation," said Chaudhry, while adding the company only mentioned how many applications it has received, not the total number of drivers it has in its system. He also said the YouTube video was submitted as an example of how the company communicates and didn't show the whole training process. 

Chaudhry said next steps include consulting with their legal department to make sure they have all the appropriate information and documents to reapply. 

In a separate decision, the PTB said, based on Kater Technologies business plan and associated financial projections, it didn't believe the company was capable of carrying out the services it proposed.  

Kater said in a statement it's very disappointed that a Vancouver company, which was locally developed to provide a much-needed service throughout the province, was not approved. 

Mixed reactions from mayors of Kelowna, Victoria

Ben Nelms/CBC

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran also expressed disappointment with the decision to reject ride-hailing applications for companies that want to operate there.

Basran said it's great news Uber and Lyft have been give the green light to start servicing the Lower Mainland and Whistler, but he's frustrated both companies didn't attempt to operate in other B.C. communities. 

"You don't know until you try and I would encourage those companies to try, because I do believe that the Okanagan would be a viable market," Basran said in a phone interview. 

Both Uber and Lyft haven't applied to operate in other B.C. regions, saying the province's regulations have made it difficult to find enough qualified drivers

Mayor Lisa Helps said it makes more sense for Uber and Lyft to explore the Metro Vancouver market before coming to Victoria. Help said the city has been in touch with Lyft and will continue to signal to all companies that ride-hailing is welcome in Victoria. 

"I think ride-sharing is one more option for mobility choice in our city and I think that's a good thing," Helps said. 

The PTB has received a total of 29 applications to date. It said it's still in the process of reviewing pending applications and is working toward issuing further decisions on ride-hailing as soon as possible.