Minister still 'confident' ride-hailing will be operational by Christmas

British Columbia's Minister of Transportation says she's still confident ride-hailing services will be up and running in the province by Christmas, even with the holiday less than two weeks away and the Passenger Transportation Board yet to issue any licences.

"The public demand for ride-hailing services is clear," Minister Claire Trevena said Saturday in a statement to CTV News Vancouver. "I anticipate the PTB will issue its decisions on a number of applications soon, and I’m confident ride-hailing services will be online by Christmas."

Ride-hailing companies don't necessarily share the minister's confidence, however.

A statement from Uber's head of Western Canada Michael van Hemmen says the company expects it will take "up to a week" after it receives a licence from the PTB for it to be operational in B.C.

"Before launching, Uber requires PTB approval, ICBC insurance, and drivers signing up to use the app," he said.

A Lyft spokesperson provided a similar statement, noting that the company still needs several approvals before it can begin operations. That said, launching in 2019 is still a possibility if approvals come in quickly enough.

With less than two weeks until Christmas, time is running out for Trevena's pledge to come to fruition.

"People want to see vehicles on the road as soon as possible, and I, like many British Columbians, am eager for the approval process to play out," the minister said in an updated statement provided to CTV News late Saturday afternoon.

"The independent Passenger Transportation Board is responsible for decisions on the 21 ride hailing applications received to date. We are hoping to hear from the Passenger Transportation Board very soon.”

Vancouverites CTV News spoke to on Saturday said they were frustrated that ride-hailing isn't available in the city already.

"It's a major headache," said resident Corbin Staniloff. "I cannot wait until uber comes. I used to live in Toronto and it was a lot easier there."

"I’m pretty excited about the change and the ease of getting around," said resident Hannah Barr.

Earlier this week, Lyft announced its pricing structure for riders in Vancouver. The minimum fare will be $5 - a $2.50 base fare plus a $2.50 service fee.

That's more expensive than the base taxi fare in the city, but comparable to what Lyft charges in its other Canadian markets, Toronto and Ottawa. The minimum in those cities is $5.50.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Allison Hurst.