UBC introduces regulations for ride-hailing on campus

With Uber and Lyft now approved to operate in Vancouver, UBC has introduced its own set of regulations for ride-hailing on campus.

On January 27, the university released its application guide for Transportation Network Service (TNS) companies to gain a license to operate at UBC.

Notably, the operating licences fee contains a flat annual $5000 administrative fee per company and a thirty cent congestion fee for every trip that’s taken from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.

“The figure was informed by a number of things, including the principle fee to cover the administrative costs associated with agreements and the costs borne with the legal process,” said Adam Hyslop, transportation planner at UBC Campus and Community Planning (C+CP)

“We landed the figure of $5000 based on the predicted number of companies that would apply. This programmatic administrative costs will scale with the number of companies operating on campus,” he added.

Centring sustainability

According to Hyslop, UBC's ride-hailing policies aim to balance convenient and sustainable transportation services, while supporting related sustainable transportation programs and infrastructure investments. Ride-hailing services are also outlined as an important part of UBC’s 2040 sustainable transportation plan.

Unlike the cities of Vancouver or Burnaby, UBC does not require fees proposed at the company level, such as the business license fee required by municipalities. The permit under UBC’s traffic and parking rules is the only operating requirement within the application and it is included within the licensing fee.

“We've taken this approach of routing our regulations within UBC’s traffic and parking rules; as the most concern around the impact of ride-hailing come from the use of streets and curbside spaces. We are essentially waiving the requirement for the business license.” said Hyslop.

The separate congestion fee also aligns with UBC’s sustainable transportation plan, as it manages congestion and curbside use on campus whilst creating funds that funnel back into other sustainable transportation programs, such as bike lanes.

Additionally, the congestion fee is a signal sending to the Vancouver market to drive further sustainable transportation choices.

“UBC has a clear policy direction to reduce single occupancy vehicle trips to and from campus. Ride-sharing is essentially a type of single occupancy vehicle trip as it is a shared trip. Over time, as the ride-hailing industry matures in Metro Vancouver, we're looking to include policies and pricing signals that will incentivize shared trips through TNS operators like Uber or Lyft,” said Hyslop.

Currently, the ride hailing operations are concentrated from North of West 16th Avenue to West of Wesbrook Mall, and guidelines are clear about where the designated pickup and drop off points to be.

“It is a balancing act that we need to walk the line of where we're enabling and encouraging the availability of ride-hailing on campus from a safety standpoint, for times of a day, and areas of campus lack of good transit options,” said Hyslop.

Currently, the ride hailing operations are concentrated from North of West 16th Avenue to West of Wesbrook Mall.
Currently, the ride hailing operations are concentrated from North of West 16th Avenue to West of Wesbrook Mall. Screenshot via UBC Campus and Community Planning

The university's regulations further outline a data sharing agreement within the license agreement. UBC hopes this will help manage prospective transportation demand by locating demand generations and measuring the evolving piece, consequently aiding with decisions such as designating extra spots, expanding the operation zone or restricting activities for congestion or safety issues.

“From a broader transportation planning perspective, understanding how people are using ride hailing, what sort of origins and destinations they're using the service for, we can start to understand if there are gaps in the transportation of the public transit network that we can advocate on behalf of the campus community for changes and improvements to the transit network and meet those needs in a more sustainable way,” said Hyslop.