Greater Victoria's only rideshare company eyes growth

Three rideshare drivers were on the road Friday morning in Greater Victoria, picking up passengers for the region's only operating ride hailing service, Lucky To Go.

"We started our operations in Victoria last year," said Mandeep Rana, owner of Lucky To Go.

The company currently has 10 drivers registered on its app – and as the city begins to open up, demand for the service is growing.

Meeting that demand has been nothing short of challenging.

"A shortage of labour is all across the industry," said Rana.

To begin with, many drivers from all sectors of passenger transportation left the industry during the pandemic. Now, many are driving for SkipTheDishes or DoorDash.

Then there is the issue of licensing. In order to transport passengers you must hold a class four licence. The pandemic shut down road tests for a period of time and now there is a backlog at ICBC.

"It is totally good money on the side," said Heike Fleing, a driver for Lucky To Go.

This mother of three began driving last year for the rideshare company. She holds a full-time job but finds that the flexibility in driving for Lucky To Go works for her.

"On my off hours I do this," said Fleing. "It keeps me busy if my son is at football practice."

"I just want to make sure I have that extra cash for special occasions," she said.

RIDESHARE COMPANIES ON VANCOUVER ISLAND

With tourism reopening, there are renewed calls for large rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft to be granted permission to operate on the island.

"We need more options," said Jeff Bray, executive director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association.

"The transportation infrastructure isn’t there," said Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association.

In December, the Passenger Transportation Board turned down Uber and Lyft’s access to the island. CTV News reached out to the agency for comment, but it declined.

Seven small rideshare companies have been given the green light to operate in the Greater Victoria region.

"We are the only ones actually operating at the moment," said Rana.

"It’s a huge financial commitment when you open up something like this," he said. "So I don’t know, maybe everyone is treading carefully."

That could be the reason why many of those companies that have been given permission to operate on the island continue to sit on the sidelines, especially with the uncertainty of COVID-19 still lingering.

For Lucky To Go, growth is on the horizon.

"We just got the licence from the airport as of yesterday," said the rideshare company's owner.

Lucky To Go will begin to run a YYJ shuttle to the airport and BC Ferries soon. Discussions are taking place with the city to begin a late-night shuttle service to UVic and the West Shore, and there are hopes that they will also be granted permission to cater to cruise ship passengers at Ogden Point.

"We would like to be the local Uber," said Rana. "We would like to show that a local company from Victoria or B.C. is capable of actually providing the same service that an international giant can provide."

Down the road, Rana has his eyes on the Vancouver market as well. Bur first he needs to grow his business here on the island.