(File photo: Black Press Media).

Surrey tells Uber to cease operations in city, but company ‘respectfully’ declines

Ridesharing company told to stop operating within the city by 9 p.m. Jan. 24

Mayor Doug McCallum and the City of Surrey have allegedly sent a letter to Uber to cease operations this evening, according to one councillor.

But Uber says it has “respectfully” declined the request that it “pause operations.”

Jack Hundial told the Now-Leader that he had heard about it online and contacted staff to confirm the news. He said he was told the city had sent the letter for Uber to cease operations by 9 p.m. Friday (Jan. 24).

A statement from Uber said that “no other city is taking this approach.”

Uber’s head of Western Canada said in a statement that the ridesharing company has been “overwhelmed” by the support from people across Metro Vancouver.

“(We) are privileged to continue helping riders connect to safe, reliable and affordable rides via the Uber app across the region.”

Uber had only just started operating in parts of Metro Vancouver Friday.

Matt MacInnis, vice-president of corporate communications for Uber, told the Now-Leader Friday morning that pick-ups and drop-offs were available in parts of Surrey. “That’s as of 8 a.m. this morning. Pick-up can happen anywhere within the shaded area of the map.”

READ ALSO: Uber says it’s been serving North Surrey since 8 a.m. Friday

Hundial said that as a council, they haven’t discussed Uber operating in the city since its rollout Friday morning. He said a lot of communities and municipalities weren’t expecting Uber to start operating so soon.

Uber and Lyft are licensed by the Passenger Transportation Board to operate anywhere in Zone 1, which includes the Lower Mainland and Whistler. However, the companies will need to purchase a business licence from any municipality that requires one in order to pick up customers within those cities.

Cities cannot block ridesharing from operating in their jurisdictions, but they can use business licensing to impose restrictions on things such as where drivers can stop. In the absence of municipal — or regional — licensing requirements, then only the provincial rules apply.

McCallum released a statement earlier in the day, stating that approval of ride hailing companies in Metro Vancouver by the Passenger Transportation Board “does not change my position on this issue.”

“What continues to be my chief concern is the unfair advantage that has been created without any regard as to how it will impact those who are employed in the taxi industry,” he said. “It is no secret that a large percentage of cab drivers live in Surrey and the modest wages they earn go to support their families. As residents and as my constituents, it is my duty to do what I can to ensure that these jobs are not lost due to an unfair advantage that has been arbitrarily put in place.”

Uber’s online map, as of 9:45 p.m. Friday, still showed Surrey to be a part of the Vancouver service area.

Lyft, in a press release Friday, stated there “are currently three driver hubs located in Surrey, Richmond and the City of Vancouver.” However, by 9:45 pm., its website showed it was only servicing the City of Vancouver and the area around Vancouver International Airport.

More to come.

– with files from Tom Zytaruk and James Smith

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