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

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

The District of Tofino has put new restrictions in place around alcohol at public events. (Westerly file photo)
Tofino puts new restrictions on alcohol at public events

Town’s council adopts Municipal Alcohol Policy.

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Ucluelet paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

Gord John stands during question period in Ottawa in Sept. 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY CHRISTIAN DIOTTE, HOUSE OF COMMONS PHOTO SERVICES)
2020: A Year in Review with Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns

NDP MP wants to ‘build back better’ in 2021

Tofino expects to elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March 6. (Westerly file photo)
Nomination period begins for Tofino byelection

Tofino is set to replace former mayor Josie Osborne, who is now the Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA.

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Quebec’s BEI completes investigation into Chantel Moore’s fatal shooting by Edmundston police officer

New Brunswick’s public prosecutions services and chief coroner to conduct public hearing

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Members of the BC RCMP Explosive Disposal Unit (EDU) is on route to Drummond Park opposite of Fulford Habour on Saltspring Island after the discovery of a suspicious cylindrical-shaped device. (Google/Screencap)
Bomb disposal unit en route to Salt Spring Island after suspicious device found in park

Police say a resident discovered the device Wednesday morning in Drummond Park opposite BC Ferries terminal

Most Read