Uber Canada’s Mike van Hemmen speaks to the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Thursday.—Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

Uber official says public needs to push for ridesharing in B.C.

Mike van Hemmen tells Kelowna Chamber of commerce ridesharing would be ‘win-win-win’

Uber Canada’s senior manager in B.C. says the introduction of ridesharing in this province would be a “win-win-win” for all involved.

And Mike van Hemmen says it’s clear the public wants to see the service given more than 200,000 people have now downloaded his company’s app

Van Hemmem spoke at a Kelowna Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday and after explaining how Uber works, said he was pleased to hear a provincial legislative committee is being tasked with putting together recommendations for government that could see ridesharing introduced in B.C. starting next year.

“We’re very excited about the potential of bringing ridesharing and Uber to Kelowna and to be able to bring an additional transportation option that will work in collaboration with public transit and biking and walking and make our community much more pleasurable to live in,” he said.

Pressure has been growing on the province to allow ridesharing companies such as Uber to operate in B.C. and during the last provincial election, the NDP said if it won, ridesharing would be in place before the end of the year.

But it put the brakes on that promise after wrestling power from the former Liberal government, only to be pushed in that direction by the B.C. Green Party helping to prop up Premier John Horgan’s minority government.

In Kelowna, van Hemmen said Uber is now operating in 40 Canadian cities (all outside B.C.) and in the last three months provided 2.1 million rides. A total of 45,000 drivers made money through providing Uber services in that same length of time, he added.

Uber uses private vehicle owners to provide private taxi service accessible through an app on mobile devices that allow users to hail a ride. Drivers go through security checks and passengers know in advance about the driver and their rating by other Uber customers. They also have the ability to share their information about the driver and their trip with others in real time as an additional level of security.

Concern by the taxi industry has helped keep rideshare companies out of B.C. and van Hemmen said he sees ridesharing as just another transportation option, not one aimed at putting taxi companies out of business. In fact, he said, Uber’s busiest times are late at night when taxis are often hardest to find.

He also said U.S. research has shown people who like to rideshare are also more apt to use public transportation at other time.

The San Francisco-based company has also been piloting other ways of ridesharing such as uberPOOL, a service that lets unrelated customers on the same route share an Uber ride, thus reducing the cost for riders. And the company is testing automated driverless vehicles providing rides in some U.S. cities, including Pittsburgh.

As for making sure ridesharing is allowed in B.C., van Hemmen said that will be up to the public to make its choice heard by lobbying the provincial government.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Revelstoke Fire Rescue Services douses house fire Aug. 7

Investigators say probable cause was an unattended barbecue

UFO trackers set their sights on Revelstoke skies

Rob Freeman UFO World Explorer and crew went up Sale Mountain

Updated: Molotov cocktails thrown at Revelstoke home in arson attempt

The flames were extinguished before they spread. Two men have been arrested.

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

EDITORIAL: Managing wildfires

Wildfires have the potential to cause significant damage within our province

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

Ottawa sets minimum unemployment rate at 13.1% for EI calculation

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July

$45K in donations received after couple’s sudden death in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

Former Summerlander receives Emmy nomination for makeup work

Lucky Bromhead recognized for her work with Canadian sitcom Schitt’s Creek

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Internet-famous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and more

Battle of Fairy Creek: blockade launched to save Vancouver Island old-growth

‘Forest Defenders’ occupy road to prevent logging company from reaching Port Renfrew-area watershed

COVID-19 could mean curtains for film and TV extras

Background performers worry they’re being replaced by mannequins on film and TV sets

Vernon officer returns soccer ball and boy’s smile

RCMP officer retrieves errant ball, returns it to five-year-old with cruiser lights flashing

Laid-off B.C. hotel workers begin hunger strike demanding job protection

Laid-off workers not sure what they’ll do when government support programs end

Most Read