(Mark Warner/Flickr)

(Mark Warner/Flickr)

Surrey Board of Trade praises ride-hailing timeline but calls for lower licensing

Provincial government announces ride-hailing applications will be accepted in September

While the Surrey Board of Trade says it is “pleased” that ride-hailing is set to be rolled out in B.C. this September, the business group is “disappointed” with the licensing requirements.

“The Surrey Board of Trade is disappointed that Class 4 licence requirements are a part of the regulation. This needs to be revisited by government to enable full market participation in the ride-hailing industry,” said Anita Huberman, CEO of Surrey Board of Trade, in a release.

The Surrey business group’s comments came just an hour after the provincial government announced that ride hailing fees had been set and that applications would be accepted starting in September.

The regulations formalize the B.C. government’s decision to require class four commercial driver’s licences for ride hailing, the same licence required to drive a taxi or limousine.

That licensing requirement is a misstep, according to Surrey Board of Trade, which calls for allowing taxi and ride-sharing drivers to instead use the lower Class 5 licence in B.C., similar to Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan but only if “the driver meets strict safe driver screening criteria.”

READ MORE: B.C. ride hailing fees set, applications accepted in September

SEE ALSO: Cities can’t block ride-hailing, transportation minister tells Surrey Board of Trade

The Surrey business group also advocates for abolishing geographic boundaries for drivers, “allowing any qualified driver to participate without artificial caps, allow them to adjust their serving areas.”

“Ride-hailing services will allow for a reliable source of transportation as current transportation systems in place are inadequate especially in cities like Surrey,” Huberman added.

But B.C.’s Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said Monday the licence system allows B.C. to meet her latest pledge to have ride hailing operating by the end of 2019.

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum has been vocal in his opposition to ride-hailing in this city.

That’s something Trevana said McCallum would “have to work through,” during an interview with the Now-Leader earlier this year.

And last month, Surrey Board of Trade issued a press release saying Trevana had confirmed that municipalities don’t have the power to block ride-hailing.

In that release, Huberman said the business group asked Trevena for “clarification” concerning the city’s authority to block ride-hailing within its boundaries and was told the Passenger Transportation Board has sole jurisdiction over that, preventing bylaws from being drafted to the contrary. Municipalities will, however, be able to regulate ride-hailing and limit where they can stop or if the drivers can use HOV lanes.

-With files from Tom Fletcher and Tom Zytaruk