The only way to resolve a shortage of ride sharing drivers is to make sure people know there’s a shortage of ride sharing drivers.
A round of media buzz about the need for ride sharing drivers to have a Class 4 or commercial licenses – and that may possibly prevent the Uber from launching outside of Vancouver – may actually help recruit more drivers.
When Uber’s Michael van Hemmen told media the B.C. government’s requirement that prospective Uber drivers must upgrade their license might mean a shortage outside of Metro Vancouver, the ensuing media coverage helped spread the word.
This may just help ensure more interested drivers get ready with the necessary upgrade license come September 16, when the ride-sharing service can start operating.
Vancouver is one of the last major North American cities without Uber and it’s not only those wanting rides, but those hoping to make some extra money driving who have been waiting and watching every move of the dance between the NDP government and Uber.
Rolling out across the province makes sense; there are people in every community in need of safe and reliable rides, and those looking for extra part-time income. As tough as it is to get a taxi in Vancouver right now, more remote communities would arguably see a bigger mobility benefit.
Without the media’s help, Uber only had their own network to communicate with. They had sent emails to current Uber Eats drivers in the province, and could have used their social media channels, but the reach would only go so far.
Uber already operates in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Manitoba and Alberta; of those, Alberta is the only province where a Class 4 license is required. In the US, the equivalent license class is only required in New York City. The fact that Vancouver has kept ride-hailing out for so long has become an embarrassment.
Aaron Zifkin, the managing director of Lyft Canada, the other big player in the ride-sharing world, has told media that his company does not currently operate in any jurisdictions where a commercial license is required. It’s unclear if this will be their policy going forward here.
Whether this September 16 date will stay firm remains an open question; the NDP government keeps pushing the launch date back. The Class 4 license may cause a big media flurry, but if that’s the only hoop left for ride-hailing companies to jump through they should consider themselves lucky.
Ada Slivinski is the Founder & Principal of Jam PR, a boutique agency focused on helping small businesses get big exposure. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org