Friday, April 24, 2020

Road towards ride hailing in Prince Rupert remains more of a long and winding one

While a ride hailing service has been approved for the North Coast,
it would seem that for the foreseeable future, the most likely mode of
transport will be that of the familiar Skeena Cab in Prince Rupert

The prospect of hailing a ride through a ride sharing service may be on the horizon for Prince Rupert residents, but the timeline towards the first cars hitting the road still remains somewhat murky.

In a decision announced by the Passenger Transportation Board on Wednesday, one proposal for ride sharing on the North Coast  that from an out of town applicant was accepted, while a second option from a would be local provider was rejected.

Though no firm timeline for operations for the successful bidder seems in place as of yet.

First Choice Cabs was a Prince Rupert based bid submitted by Kuldip Singh Bhatti, a local owner/operator with Skeena Taxi who had expansive plans to provide service over a wide swath of Northern BC, with the proponent submitting the plan earlier this year in response to the call for submissions.

However, the bid and business plan that First Choice outlined was one that did not exactly resonate with the PTB, which found flaws in a number of areas, including the ability to manage such a vast geographic territory as that which they hoped to deliver service in, as well as their lack of any mobile application process in place towards accessing their proposed service.

In the end, the provincial body rejected the proposal, with item 38 of the decision laying out what concerned the regulating body the most.

With respect to 1st Choice’s capability to provide the proposed service, its Application includes 3-year cash flow projections. It does not include the 36-month cash flow projections required by the Board. The outlined assumptions underlying the projections are not realistic. 

While 1st Choice proposes to operate in an extensive geographic area ranging from the Islands Trust and Sunshine Coast to Peace River, with 100 vehicles, it proposes staffing of only three managers. 

It does not plan to hire the two managers who will assist the principal until month 13 of operation. 1st Choice does not currently have an app, yet the cost of app development or acquisition is not specified. It identifies app development as occurring in year 3. 

The Application does not acknowledge the shortage of drivers and difficulty in recruiting drivers with a class 4 licence. Overall, the Board finds the business plan as submitted unrealistic.

You can review the full  review of the decision here.

The application that did find success was that of LTG Technologies, or Lucky to Go, a Victoria based proposal that outlined plans to operate in a number of regions of the province, including the Northern portion of BC.

Their proposal did contain more of the kind of detail that the licensing body appears to like, with a guide for prospective drivers, price setting policies and management of fleet provisions all fully outlined.

Their compilation of data for the PTB seems to have filled the board's criteria for success, with the PTB noting that hey have steps in place to monitor their operations as the proposed service moves forward.

The Board is satisfied that, for section 28(1) purposes: (a) there is a public need for the service proposed by LTG; (b) LTG is a fit and proper person and has the capability to provide that service; and, (c) properly regulated, LTG’s Application promotes sound economic conditions in the passenger transportation industry in the province. 

The Board has taken steps in crafting the terms and conditions of LTG’s licence to ensure that it is able to monitor and assess LTG’s operations as they unfold and to respond where data establishes the necessity of a regulatory response.

The review which includes the approval can be examined here, it notes that prior to commencing service Lucky to Go must inform the Board of the Regional District to have the minimum rate of operation set for the community.

You can learn more about what Lucky to Go has planned when it comes to their Ride Hailing service from their website.

The prospect of the introduction of ride hailing in Prince Rupert has not been much of a discussion topic for City Council in recent years, and so far Prince Rupert officials have had nothing to say about the PTB decision of this week.

It may, however be a bit of time yet before you're tapping your phone to seek a ride from Lucky to Go in Prince Rupert.

Considering the current economic climate in the province during these times of the COVID-19 pandemic, the proposed launch date of within 3-6 months of licensing is now a bit of a moving target.

With those expansion plans outside of the Lower mainland and larger population centres more of a long roll out rather than a quick acceleration.

You can review some of our past notes on the still to be launched Ride Hailing services for Prince Rupert below:

August 2019 -- There will be YOU in UBER in Prince Rupert; as ride sharing giant limits its plans to Vancouver for upcoming launch
July 2019 -- BC prepares for the era of Uber and Times for Lyfts ... but will Prince Rupert be along for the ride?
July 2018 -- City Council makes quick work of approval for new Taxi Bylaw Amendment
June 2018 -- City seeks public feedback on proposed Vehicle for Hire (Taxi) Bylaw changes

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