FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Fort St. John council is encouraging residents interested in becoming Uber drivers to apply to the company to catch its attention in hopes of getting it to bring its ridesharing services to the Energetic City.
Chief Administrative Officer Milo MacDonald looked into taxi licensing and ridesharing opportunities on behalf of the city and reported his findings to council during a meeting on July 24th.
During his inquiry, MacDonald learned Uber is authorized to operate anywhere in B.C., and “there is no reason why interested drivers could not operate as Uber drivers” in Fort St. John.
Local drivers interested in providing Uber ridesharing services would be able to do so in Fort St. John upon obtaining a business license from the city. However, Uber doesn’t currently have its service established in Fort St. John.
Council encouraged residents interested in becoming Uber drivers to apply with the company to show their interest in having the service in the city.
Councillor Trevor Bolin pointed out that before applying for a business licence through the city, drivers must first apply through Uber. He said a Fort St. John resident applied for a licence through Uber three months ago and was rejected by the ridesharing company.
Councillor Byron Stewart said he encourages local drivers interested in obtaining an Uber licence to reach out to the BC Passenger Transportation Board, as well as Uber, to show their interest in the ridesharing service.
“We need people applying for Uber, and we will send letters and do whatever is necessary to get this off the ground,” said Stewart.
Stewart also said he would like to invite the BC Passenger Transportation Board to Fort St. John to experience local taxi services firsthand. This prompted council to vote in favour of setting up a meeting with the board to discuss all ridesharing options available to the city, along with concerns surrounding local taxi services.
Council members closed the discussion by passing a recommendation to write a letter to Uber expressing interest in the ridesharing service becoming available in Fort St. John.
During the council meeting, MacDonald said he contacted the BC Passenger Transportation Board on the status of two taxi licence approvals following letters of support written by city staff for two prospective businesses hoping to start a taxi business in Fort St. John.
MacDonald and staff drafted letters to the BC Passenger Transportation Board detailing the challenges being experienced within the community as a result of the lack of taxi services. MacDonald said the city has received several pieces of correspondence from the public indicating local “taxi services are often unavailable, or only available after an unacceptably long wait.”
“It has been reported that at peak times, such as the arrival of scheduled flights, or at bar closing, or following the conclusion of evening shifts after bus service is unavailable, these challenges are nearly insurmountable with no taxi service available at all,” wrote MacDonald.
Macdonald says staff at the BC Passenger Transportation Board were able to confirm the status of one licence is “still with the Commercial Passenger Vehicles (CPV) area” and that there had been delays in the application due to incomplete documentation.
“Once the CPV has reviewed and processed the application, it will be sent to the [BC Passenger Transportation] Board for decision. There is no timeline for this process,” the report reads.
According to Macdonald, the other application was not yet received by the board, and “it is possible the proponent may have changed his mind about starting a taxi business.”
The full report, including a detailed list of requirements, can be found on the City of Fort St. John’s website.