Until now, the ride-hailing company Lyft, Inc. has only operated in Ontario for its Canadian services, but the company says it’s planning to move into the Lower Mainland area of Vancouver before the end of this year, possibly by the fall.

Peter Lukomskyj, the first general manager hired by Lyft in B.C., said that while they intend to expand across the rest of the province eventually, the focus is solely on Lower Mainland due to the concern that B.C. is requiring Class 4 commercially-licensed drivers.

Lukomsykyj indicated that the added requirement makes it hard for Lyft to meet the need to cover an area sustainably.

“We are still quite concerned about the requirement for drivers to have commercial licences as it will negatively impact driver supply and restrict the regions in which we are able to operate,” Lukomskyj said in an email statement to The Toronto Star.

Aaron Zifkin, the managing director of Lyft in Canada, was quoted in the Vancouver Sun saying this requirement does not line up with the types of individuals that Lyft usually employs.

“Ninety-one per cent of the drivers on our platform drive less than 20 hours a week. These are people like single moms, students in school and people trying to supplement their incomes. As soon as you introduce that Class 4 commercial licence, these people tend not to apply for that type of work,” Zifkin said.

Class 4 licence holders include taxi, limousine and ambulance drivers. There is a minimum age restriction of 19 to go along with a required two years of non-learner experience and fewer than four penalty points over the preceding two years.

The B.C. Transportation Ministry had set the date ride-hailing companies can apply to enter the market for Sept. 3, and it is expected that rules covering fares and the number of vehicles permitted for each ride-booking service will be released by the end of the summer.

Lyft currently operates in the following Ontario cities:

  • Ajax
  • Brampton
  • Hamilton
  • Mississauga
  • Newmarket
  • Oshawa
  • Ottawa
  • Richmond Hill
  • Toronto
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