Ride hailing firm OK’d for Powell River area

The Sunshine Coast will soon have a second ride-hailing firm on the road.

Friday the Passenger Transportation Board approved an application from Powell River Taxi to offer ride-hailing in two regions of the province: Vancouver Island, excluding Greater Victoria, and the province’s north and other regions.

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However, it said it does not plan to operate on Vancouver Island — the Island region overlaps into areas where Powell River Taxi intends to operate ride-hailing services, requiring it to be licensed here.

In its application, the taxi firm, owned by Robert Wayne Maithus, said it intends to expand and improve transportation services within the qathet Regional District, previously known as the Powell River Regional District.

The company believes ride-hailing will mean improved coverage across the district and increase capacity in peak periods via an expansion that is integrated with the only taxi company in Powell River. The taxi firm currently operates six vehicles.

It intends to initially launch five ride-hailing vehicles.

It is the second ride-hailing firm on the Sunshine Coast after the board approved Coastal Rides to operate in February of this year.

Coastal intends to operate in the Sunshine Coast Regional District this year with expansion to Powell River within three years.

The board also rejected an application this week, turning down Khaled Abdulqader and Omar Baoween’s application to operate Taxieh on the Lower Mainland.

The company, which is based in Victoria, was denied a licence after the board raised significant concerns over the lack of clarity on how the company intended to comply with the regulatory framework in B.C., offered limited information on fleet size, payment structure and how it intended to hire drivers.

Overall the board deemed the company’s business plan unrealistic.

To date the Passenger Transportation Board has received 41 ride-hailing and has now issued decisions on 34 of them.

Victoria has two approved ride-hailing firms — Lucky To Go and Kabu — though both have said their launch dates are uncertain as a result of the pandemic.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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