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VICTORIA - The British Columbia government says ride-hailing services are on schedule to be operating this year despite concerns about unnecessary delays.

Premier John Horgan says the application process for prospective ride-hailing companies is underway and he expects vehicles and drivers on the road by Christmas.

Opposition Liberal critic Jas Johal says recent documents from the Passenger Transportation Board indicate delays in processing applications that could stall the service indefinitely.

The Passenger Transportation Board issued a notice Oct. 30 saying ride-hail application modifications will require another 21 days to complete, a change implemented in part because of a judicial challenge by taxi associations.

Last July, the government said the application process to permit ride-hail companies to enter the market would start in September and companies could technically be operating within a matter of weeks.

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena says 19 companies have applied for operating licences and she expects ride-hailing to be running before year's end.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 31, 2019.