Victoria ride-hailing company takes a seat at the food-delivery table

Victoria ride-hailing company Lucky to Go expects to launch a food-delivery service within the next three weeks in response to takeout giant Skip the Dishes adding a B.C.-only surcharge.

Mandeep Rana, chief executive of the local firm, said the surcharge Skip the Dishes added this year was the final push his company needed to get into the food-delivery game.

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“It made the final decision,” he said. “The public is frustrated and businesses are frustrated, but we wanted to show there is a possibility all sides could have advantages — the consumer, the drivers and the businesses. Let us show there are alternatives and we can do it at a much lower price than anyone else.”

Lucky to Go, which was approved to operate ride-sharing services in Victoria, the Lower Mainland and Kelowna by the Passenger Transportation Board last spring, proposes to charge an eight per cent fee to deliver food from local restaurants.

Last year, the province announced food-delivery services could charge no more than 15 per cent on orders. In response to the cap, Skip the Dishes added a 99-cent surcharge — a “B.C. fee” — on all orders in the province.

Rana said his company developed a food-delivery interface for its application alongside the ride-hailing interface as it always intended to offer a delivery service as well.

When users launch the company’s smartphone app, customers have the option to choose ride-hailing, food delivery or book a ride for a future date.

If they choose food service, the app will take them to an interface that is like most other food-delivery software programs, with a list of restaurants and their menus.

However, the food-delivery service is still signing up restaurants in Lucky to Go’s three markets and is unlikely to send out its first delivery until the first week of March.

In Victoria, where the company has 20 ride-hailing drivers and 35 delivery drivers — the delivery drivers do not require a Class 4 driver’s licence — it has about 35 restaurants preparing to offer their menus.

It is still signing up restaurants in Kelowna and Vancouver. Lucky to Go will launch the delivery service in Victoria first.

Rana said with ride-hailing struggling during the pandemic, with so few people needing to go anywhere, a delivery service was a chance for drivers to earn extra money, while benefiting local restaurants who were getting hit with high fees from the big delivery services.

“Anything that could have gone wrong with our industry has gone wrong,” he said, adding he believes only four ride-hailing companies of the 25 approved are still operating in B.C.

“This is great for the drivers who can work and do food delivery at the same time. It’s a chance for them to have multiple incomes,” Rana said.

“And they don’t have to switch companies or applications. We talked to a lot of drivers over the last few months and saw tremendous interest. They suggested we get into this game sooner rather than later.”

Rana said Lucky to Go will start marketing the service in the next week or so, while contacting restaurants to get on board. “I would anticipate that by the first week of March it should be operational,” he said.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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