With ride-hailing now officially operating in the Lower Mainland, residents will have to learn quickly how to use the service.
From making your first trip to getting a good passenger rating, here are five things to know.
1. How to get started
Download the Uber or Lyft app on your phone and set up an account. Each service is cashless, so you’ll need to enter a credit card number. This will be how you pay for a trip, including the tip.
To hail a ride, simply type in your location and destination, as well as the type of vehicle you want, which will determine the price. The nicer the vehicle, the more expensive the trip.
Once you have confirmed the trip, the app will automatically assign you a driver. A map will appear showing your driver’s location as they make their way to pick you up. You’ll be able to track the car as well as you move toward your destination.
2. How the costs work
Both companies have been approved to use “dynamic pricing,” which means fares will go up during peak hours. This is to spread out the demand for rides. During some hours, it may actually be cheaper to take a cab. Consumer advocates recommend registering with more than one ride-sharing company.
Don’t expect your first ride to be free, as in other cities. That’s because B.C.’s Passenger Transportation Board, which approves ride-hailing applications, has banned companies from offering coupons or discounts that lower the price below the minimum fare of $3.35.
Here’s a breakdown of what affects a fare:
Base fare and booking fee: $4.50
Per kilometre: $0.70
Per minute: $0.33
Base fare and service fee: $5
Per kilometre: $0.65
Per minute: $0.33
*Lyft has a minimum fare of $5
3. You can’t travel just anywhere
Uber and Lyft still need to hire a lot of drivers, so they’re only going to cover smalls areas at first.
Until further notice, Uber will operate in Vancouver, Richmond, Delta, Burnaby, New Westminster, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and north Surrey, and parts of North Vancouver and West Vancouver.
Lyft will run only in Vancouver’s downtown core, as well as to and from the PNE and Vancouver International Airport.
As each municipality introduces its own business licence, or agrees to join a regional licence model, both companies are allowed to operate in the Lower Mainland up to Whistler.
At YVR, passengers can get drivers to pick them up at “ride app” pickup signs at International Arrivals, Domestic Arrivals and South Terminal.
4. Ride-hailing etiquette and safety
Many ride-sharing drivers are known to go all out, offering free water bottles, snacks, and even have a themed interior. That’s because the apps allow you to rate your driver, and for them to rate you, on a scale of one to five.
If a passenger or driver’s rating dips significantly below average, they could be temporarily or permanently blocked from the app.
Safety tips for passengers include:
- Wait for the ride in a safe place or indoors
- Ask the driver to confirm your name before you get in the car, to make sure they are an employed driver
- Whenever possible, sit in the back, especially if you are riding alone
- Always wear a seat belt
- Share your trip details with a loved one
- Don’t share personal information
- Report any criminal or concerning activity to the ridesharing company or the police
5. Expect delays as ride-sharing rolls out across the region
Ride-hailing is for its short wait times and easy-to-use service, but it may take time to reach the corners of the Lower Mainland.
Both companies have vowed to expand their service areas as they hire more drivers, but you may be waiting longer than expected for the first little while.