A year early, Uber and Lyft are already battling over Vancouver

Ride-hailing companies eager to develop footholds in the market, even as province promises they won't be able to register licences until September 2019

Credit: Uber and Lyft

Ride-hailing companies are eager to develop footholds in the market, even as the province promises they can’t register licences until September 2019

For British Columbians, ride-sharing is the future—literally. 

The provincial government has forbidden companies like Uber and Lyft from applying to serve B.C. cities until September 2019. The bottom line: customers probably won’t be able to enjoy their services until the end of next year. But that hasn’t stopped both businesses from ramping up their local efforts.

Uber has been operating a downtown Vancouver office for some time, given that it opened an Uber Eats outpost there in December 2017. But it’s clear that the company would love to expand from running food to picking up people.

Meanwhile, Lyft has been all over the job boards of late, advertising for a local marketing manager and a general manager in Vancouver.

For companies barred from the marketplace, such activity usually suggests that change is imminent, but we know that’s not the case here.

So, what’s happening?

Well, the two American companies obviously aren’t hurting for capital. A valuation earlier this year put Uber at US$72 billion, while Lyft hit US$15 billion in June.

The archrivals don’t seem afraid to use their deep pockets, either, as they try to outmanoeuvre each other in a city where they can’t transport passengers until deep into 2019.

We look forward to bringing Lyft’s affordable, reliable rides to Vancouver and are beginning the process of building a team in anticipation of an eventual launch,” Aaron Zifkin, managing director of Lyft Canada, said in a statement. “Vancouver is a great fit for Lyft, and we are working with the B.C. government to bring ride-sharing to the province as soon as possible.”

Let the ride-hailing wars begin.