Uber may not operate outside Metro Vancouver over driver shortage

VANCOUVER—A spokesman for Uber says the company may not operate outside of Metro Vancouver if it can’t get enough qualified drivers with a commercial licence in keeping with ride-hailing regulations set by the B.C. government.

Michael van Hemmen says the company’s decision to launch will also be based on policies finalized in mid-August by the Passenger Transportation Board on issues such as flexible pricing and boundaries.

The province has said ride-hailing drivers must have a Class 4 licence, like those held by taxi drivers, as opposed to the standard Class 5 licence held by most motorists in the province.

Applications from companies such as Uber and Lyft will be accepted as of Sept. 3 but van Hemmen says the onerous requirements may mean the company will find it difficult to do business.

The company already operates in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Alberta, and van Hemmen says the latter province also requires a commercial licence for ride-hailing drivers, as does New York City, the only jurisdiction in the United States with that regulation.

Uber says in a statement that while B.C. cites the requirement of a medical exam as providing additional passenger safety for Class 4 licence holders, medical practitioners are already required to inform the province’s auto insurer if a patient has a condition that would impair driving.