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The big players in the ride-hailing world, Uber and Lyft have passed on Kelowna. Smaller companies that want to come here have been rejected by the Passenger Transportation Safety Board. That leaves Kelowna standing at the curb and Mayor Colin Basran is frustrated.
"It's so close and yet still so far," said Basran. With some companies rejecting Kelowna, and other companies being rejected by the PTSB, he's getting impatient.
One of the companies which have expressed interest in setting up in Kelowna is Kater. It was rejected by the PTSB over concerns about its business plan and what the board found to be unrealistic financial projections. In it's published findings the board concluded that another applicant, LTG Technologies failed to show "an understanding of the passenger transportation business."
"It's just frustration on behalf of council," said Basran, "and many of the Kelowna residents who I hear from regularly saying: 'Why do we not have this available."
KelownaNow canvassed people in the downtown today and found almost unanimous support for getting ride-hailing to the city.
Uber and Lyft are more interested in the Vancouver market, and despite interest from smaller companies like TapCarr, Uride and Kater, Kelowna is left with no immediate prospects for a ride-hailing service. And despite the fact that it's more of a provincial issue, Basran hears about it a lot. "I continue to remind people it's not a city council issue," he told KelownaNow. "We've advocated for it. We continue to advocate for it, but we still do not see it here so that's really frustrating."
On the other side of the discussion, cab companies complain that the additional regulations and expenses placed upon them are unfair. Basran said they make a good point. "I actually agree with their arguments," he told KelownaNow saying there needs to be a level playing field for ride-hailing companies and taxis to share the road.