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Uber finally approved for Victoria

Popular ride-hailing service Uber has been approved to operate in Victoria and Kelowna.

The company had previously applied to operate in B.C.'s capital, but was rejected by the Passenger Transportation Safety Board (PTB).

In its most recent application in 2021, the PTB said it did not believe there was enough demand for the company, and that local operators needed more time to recover from the pandemic.

In 2022, the company took a different tack and applied to purchase the operating licence of a different ride-hailing service that had already been approved to operate in Victoria.

On Wednesday, the PTB announced that it had approved Uber's application to buy the operating licence from Vancouver-based ride-hailing company ReRyde.

Licence transfer approvals are less stringent than applications for new licences, with the PTB only tasked with assessing if the new purchaser is capable of providing adequate service.

The PTB says the licence transfer application generated "significate interest" from the industry, including more than 40 submissions from taxi companies and other ride-hailing companies in Victoria and Kelowna.

Some of the groups that supported Uber's expansion into Victoria included the Victoria International Airport, which said that current transportation options from the airport into other areas of Greater Victoria are "very limited."

Mother's Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada also supported the move, saying the company helps reduce impaired driving by offering residents another option for getting home at night.

Groups that opposed Uber's expansion into Victoria and Kelowna include many local taxi operators, as well as the British Columbia Taxi Association (BCTA).

A "common theme" of the groups' concerns was that it appeared like Uber was trying to circumvent the PTB's previous decision to not allow Uber to operate in Victoria by acquiring ReRyde's licence.

The BCTA went so far as to call it an "abuse of process" and taxi advocates noted that ReRyde had not started operating in Victoria, making it difficult to prove that Uber coming to Victoria would promote sound economic conditions for the region.

While Uber has been approved to operate in Victoria, an exact launch date has not yet been announced.

"Victoria and Kelowna, you are one step closer to requesting a ride with the tap of a button," said Uber Canada in a social media post Wednesday.

"We plan to launch soon and will provide more information in the coming days."

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