(Flickr image)

Uber says it’s been serving North Surrey since 8 a.m. Friday

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum has voiced vehement opposition to ride hailing in this city

There’s uber confusion over Uber operating in parts of Surrey Friday, despite Mayor McCallum vowing to deny such ride-hailing companies business licences here.

Uber launched its operation in Metro Vancouver on Jan. 24, with North Surrey included in its service map.

Matt MacInnis, vice president of corporate communications for Uber, told the Now-Leader that pick-ups and drop-offs were available in parts of Surrey. “That’s as of 8 a.m. this morning,” he said Friday. “Pick-up can happen anywhere within the shaded area of the map.”

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Stephanie Sedlak, of Uber policy and communications, echoed that.

“The app was live as of 8 a.m. this morning, if you look at the service map, we are servicing parts of Surrey right now,” she told the Now-Leader on Friday morning.

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum has voiced vehement opposition to ride hailing in Surrey, claiming it’s unfair to local taxi drivers. City Hall issued this statement Friday, after the Now-Leader sought his response to the latest developments.

“The approval of ride hailing companies in Metro Vancouver by the Passenger Transportation Board does not change my position on this issue,” McCallum stated in the press release. “What continues to be my chief concern is the unfair advantage that has been created without any regard as to how it will impact those who are employed in the taxi industry. It is no secret that a large percentage of cab drivers live in Surrey and the modest wages they earn go to support their families. As residents and as my constituents, it is my duty to do what I can to ensure that these jobs are not lost due to an unfair advantage that has been arbitrarily put in place.”

READ ALSO UPDATE: Ride-hailing launches in parts of Metro Vancouver

READ ALSO: Surrey mayor the lone vote against regional business licensing for ride hailing

READ ALSO: Surrey mayor slams ride-hailing, again

McCallum argues that the taxi industry “meets the needs of all its passengers by having vehicles for hire that can accommodate people of all abilities.

“Until I am assured that a level playing field is established, I will not be supporting the issuing of ride hailing business licenses and, if there is a need, I will be asking for an increase in taxi licenses for operation in Surrey,” he said. “I look forward to hearing about how the region will work with the province to ensure there is fair competition in the marketplace between ride hailing companies and the taxi industry.”

Meantime, MacInnis said that “when it comes to business licences, there is a inter-municipality business licence process that the mayor’s council is going through now, and Uber is participating in the process.”

A Lyft press release issued by public relations company Citizen Relations indicated on Friday that there “are currently three driver hubs located in Surrey, Richmond and the City of Vancouver.”

Laurie Fletcher, a senior account executive with Citizen Relations, said Lyft is not operating in Surrey yet; however, we will be continuing to expand the operating area.

“We do have a hub there (in Surrey),” she said, “but we aren’t operating it there yet.”

“I can’t comment on the exact time,” she added. “We don’t have an official time frame.”

Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman, who has been a vocal advocate of ride hailing in Surrey, said the board is pleased with Lyft and Uber being approved to operate in the Lower Mainland and Whistler.

“Surrey needs ridesharing,” she said. “Surrey needs more transit and transportation options. We hope all local government decision makers see the need for this in Surrey.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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