VICTORIA — Ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft say they are on the road in Metro Vancouver, less than a day after receiving long-awaited approval for operating licences.
Uber activated its app Friday morning, while Lyft held a news conference outlining is operational area covering downtown Vancouver, the international airport in Richmond and part of east Vancouver.
Uber says it will service North and West Vancouver, Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, Surrey, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and parts of Delta.
Rate structures for the two companies are 33 cents a minute, but Uber will charge 70 cents per kilometre while Lyft charges 65 cents, and base and services fees for Uber are $4.50 compared with Lyft's $5.
Taxi rates can vary in Metro Vancouver, but the base fare is generally $3.25 and $1.88 per kilometre.
Vancouver quickly issued business licences to Uber and Lyft after the Passenger Transportation Board approved provincial licences Thursday.
Currently, drivers for both ride-hailing companies must arrange for separate business licences and fees in every municipality across Metro Vancouver, but a framework for a unified ride-hailing business licence is expected by early next month.
Peter Lukomskyj, Lyft's general manager for B.C., told a news conference in Vancouver Friday that the company has been ready and waiting to get on the road.
"We are very excited today to bring Lyft's ride-sharing service to British Columbia." Lukomskyj said.
"Today, we have Lyft off," he added with a smile.
Approval of ride-hailing in B.C. followed years of work that Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said included amending transportation service laws to accommodate both ride-hailing and existing taxi services, as well as ensuring safety for passengers and drivers.
The B.C. Taxi Association has opposed ride-hailing, arguing taxis cannot compete on a level playing field.
Its president Mohan Kang said in a statement that association lawyers will review the licence approvals for Uber and Lyft and will be considering its options.