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Uber launching in Victoria and Kelowna next week


After years of trying to break into the market, popular ride-hailing app Uber is set to launch in Victoria and Kelowna in early June.

On Monday, Uber said it would be launching "next week" in the two B.C. cities, though a specific start date was not announced.

Uber also sent out advertisements to potential drivers in both cities on Monday in an effort to recruit workers ahead of next week's start date.

It's been a long, meandering journey for the ride-hailing company to begin operating in Victoria and Kelowna.

Uber had applied multiple times to the Passenger Transportation Safety Board (PTB) to operate beyond Vancouver, but was rejected for several reasons.

In its most recent attempt in 2021, the PTB said it did not believe there was enough demand in Victoria for Uber, and that local taxi operators and ride-hailing companies needed more time to recover from the pandemic.

In 2022, Uber decided to apply for a licence transfer, instead of a new licence, by purchasing the operating licence of ReRyde, a Vancouver-based ride-hailing company that had already been approved tp operate in Victoria and Kelowna.

The PTB has fewer requirements to approve a licence transfer compared to approving an entirely new licence, and on May 10 the licence transfer was approved.

The PTB says Uber's licence transfer application created "significant interest" from local stakeholders, including more than 40 submissions from taxi companies and other ride-hailing services in Victoria and Kelowna.

Many of the submitters argued that Uber had circumvented the PTB's approval rules, and that there was no valid business case for taking over ReRyde's licence, since it hadn't actually started operating in Victoria.

Meanwhile, there were submissions of support for Uber coming to Victoria from entities like the Victoria International Airport and Mother's Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada, which argued that there were not enough transportation options available in the city, and that Uber would help reduce the rate of impaired driving by offering a travel alternative. Top Stories

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