Uber and Lyft Come to Vancouver

CapU community members share their ride-hailing experiences 

Bridget Stringer-Holden // Contributor
Amy Asin // Illustrator

Ride-hailing has been a long time coming to British Columbia. According to Uber, in December 2019, there were over 100,000 people who opened the Uber app to see if the service was finally available. Now that Uber and Lyft are hitting the streets, people are eager to try them out, but there appear to be mixed feelings about what this means for transportation in BC. 

In anticipation of the approval from the Passenger Transportation Board, Uber started approving drivers in the Metro Vancouver Area and distributing decals as early as November. However, there seems to be a shortage of drivers and students have been experiencing long wait times. In order to respond to this concern, Lyft has temporarily limited its services to the core of Vancouver but is planning to expand once it has acquired the capacity and available drivers.  

CapU alumna Emma Hall-Stevenson also commented on the limited drivers currently available but said that she liked Uber because of the ability to coordinate with friends to split trips and fares, and added that she feels safer with Uber because the reviews hold them accountable and there are cameras installed in the cars. 

Instead of grabbing a cab one night, Acting for Stage and Screen student Husain Sattar suggested to his friend, “Why don’t we try Uber? It’s way cheaper and we haven’t tried it yet.” They downloaded the app and managed to sign up in under two minutes. A visibly marked car with an LED “U” on the dashboard arrived after about five minutes. “It was super clean and super warm for us when we got in from the cold weather. The driver was very sweet and asked us how our night was,” said Sattar. He also commented that the speed limit was maintained throughout the trip, something he had not always experienced in taxis. 

However, others argue against the safety of using Uber. On his personal account, Josh Thomas, the Director of Policy and Campaigns for the Capilano Students’ Union tweeted, “@Uber puts the lives of riders in danger, adds on erroneous charges and provides no customer support.” He experienced an unsafe driver and a waiting fee, with no recourse from Uber other than an email with a $5 credit reassuring Thomas that they reviewed their standards on a regular basis. During his first trip, the driver drove distracted with one hand on the wheel. During his second trip, Thomas was ready at the curb but had to pay for “waiting time” because the driver overshot the address and had to find his way back during that time. “I’ll be taking @TransLink exclusively from here on out, thanks,” he tweeted. Hall-Stevenson also commented that she had been unaware that they charged extra for “toll charges.” 

Taxis have also been affected by the implementation of Uber and Lyft with some taxi drivers making the switch, claiming that it is inevitable and there is no use fighting it. Nine Metro Vancouver taxi companies are taking Uber, Lyft and the Passenger Transportation Board to the BC Supreme Court. They are seeking an injunction to suspend the apps until the courts can hear a judicial review of the Passenger Transportation Board’s decision to approve Uber and Lyft’s licenses, which will not take place until late March or early April. Carolyn Bauer, a spokesperson for the BC Taxi Association explained that the taxi industry is not opposed to ridesharing, simply the restrictions that are placed on taxis but that do not apply to the new ride-hailing services. Yellow Cab president Kulwant Sahota drives taxis as well and claims that there has been about a 30 per cent drop in revenue.  

“I frequent taxi services often, more than I want and should, and the amount of rude and aggressive drivers I’ve had largely outnumbers the kind safe ones,” said Charlotte King, Liberal Studies Student at CapU, who appreciates ridesharing but recommends people support Lyft instead of Uber. King has always leaned toward Lyft because their safety policies allow riders to share their trips with friends and also because the company is a big ally to LGBTQ2S+ communities by recognizing gender diversity and allowing riders to select pronouns. King has close friends who attempt to take taxis in drag and is frustrated with the homophobia that continues to occur as taxi after taxi slows and then continues on. 

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