News / Vancouver

Vancouver startup close to launching Uber-like service

Ripe TX has applied for 150 taxi licences and already has an app that boasts nearly identical features to Uber

Uber operates in most major cities in North America, but not Vancouver.

PABLO BLAZQUEZ DOMINGUEZ/GETTY IMAGES

Uber operates in most major cities in North America, but not Vancouver.

A Vancouver startup has applied for 150 taxi licences in a bid to offer residents what every other major city already has – Uber – but with one important difference. Ripe Rides says it will follow B.C.’s laws on rates, accrediting drivers, and paying insurance.

The company launched in December 2015 with 20 luxury sedans for hire and an app that allows users to hail a car, track where the car is, who the driver is and his or her rating, see an estimated rate for the trip, auto-pay for the trip, and split the trip with a friend.

These features are nearly identical to the ones Uber boasts. But currently Ripe Rides only has 20 cars and they are not taxis – they are luxury cars that mostly businessmen use.

The Vancouver company always had bigger ambitions, said director of business operations, Nitesh Mistry.

“It was always in our growth plan and our strategy to expand to service more of the GVRD and more of the public.”

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It plans to launch a second app, Ripe Tx, that would connect users to 120 taxis with the same set of Uber-like features.

But unlike Uber, Ripe Rides wants to play by the rules.

Ripe Tx would offer the same features as Uber but would charge users B.C.-regulated taxi rates.

Ripe Rides/Contribute

Ripe Tx would offer the same features as Uber but would charge users B.C.-regulated taxi rates.

“At the end of the day, what we have applied for is are taxi licences. What we have applied for is no different than what Uber could do right now,” said Mistry.

“We are more than happy to play by the rules that have been set forth.”

For its part, Uber says it does not consider view alternatives like Ripe Rides as its primary competition, a spokesperson told Metro.

The company is instead focusing on its campaign to convince the B.C. government to allow Uber into the province.

“The provincial government should take action in the upcoming legislative session to expand the number of options available,” said Susie Heath, spokesperson for Uber Canada.

The province would not comment on when it would introduce new legislation for ridesharing but Minister Peter Fassbender, who was in charge of consultation for those regulations, told Metro in October he was looking for a “made-in-B.C.” solution.

Mistry says he expects an answer from the Passenger Transportation Board on Ripe Rides’ taxi-licence application in a few months. 

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