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

Sultans of String swing into town

Show at Pynelogs November 29th

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

Nordic club glides into new ski season

Special presentation by Olympian Ingrid Liepa

Remembering the sacrifice

An interview with Australian veteran John Wood, who lives in the Columbia Valley

Sheep-saving mission

On the hunt for a bighorn sheep with a tomato trellis stuck to her head; a Pioneer ridealong

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Canadians more prepared for weather disaster than financial one: poll

RBC recommends people check their bank app as often as the weather app

B.C. dog owner sues after pet killed in beaver trap

A Kamloops man is suing the operator of a trapline north of the city after his dog died

Most Read