The BC Passenger Transportation Board’s decision yesterday to deny an Uber application to provide ride hailing service to communities outside the Lower Mainland is “baffling”, said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran.

“It’s really disappointing that the board says it is not convinced a public need for ride-hailing services exists outside the Lower Mainland,” said Mayor Basran.

“That view definitely does not align with what we are hearing and experiencing in Kelowna. Our airport is the largest one in Canada without ride-hailing services, and we hear about that from domestic and international passengers all the time.

“Safety is probably the biggest reason we should have ride-hailing options in Kelowna. They offer another option to get home for people who might be intoxicated. Other Cities have seen a drop in impaired driving charges after ride-hailing companies began operations. The local taxi industry does not have the surge capacity to fully meet holiday demand.

“Also, contrary to claims that the taxi industry has not recovered from pandemic declines in ridership, provincial data shows the number of taxi trips in our region has more than fully recovered.

“I would also add that Kelowna is one of the province’s biggest technology hubs and being denied a service that is available virtually everywhere else makes no sense to me. We have done the research and ride-hailing companies are identified in our draft Transportation Master Plan as part of a complete system of personal mobility.

“There are so many good reasons to allow ride-hailing services in Kelowna, so we will be following up with the board and the provincial ministries responsible for these decisions, including pointing out the data that shows Kelowna has bucked the provincial trend and has recovered taxi ridership beyond pre-pandemic levels, which seems to be the board’s main argument.”