Uber hits bumpy road in expanding service to Halifax
The car hailing company Uber has become a billion dollar business worldwide, but it hasn’t been a smooth ride in one Maritime city.
Uber is an app based ride sharing service that connects riders to drivers using GPS technology.
When you launch the Uber app in most cities, you see little cars moving around a map, indicating the drivers closest to you. However, when the app is launched in Halifax, seemingly wherever you may be, there are no cars available.
When the service came to Halifax a year ago, taxi drivers were concerned it would destroy their business, but it has not done the damage they anticipated.
“In Halifax, Uber hasn’t really been successful,” says Brian Herman, Casino Taxi president.
“I know that some of the drivers who have tried it, you know people who work for another company, say ‘hey, I'll drive for Uber on nights and weekends’ are finding out that they're sitting on the side of the road for hours, and they're saying, 'well, is this what it's all about?’” says Dave Buffet, of the Taxi Drivers Association.
However, just this week the taxi union in Ottawa said Uber drivers are taking 40 per cent of their income.
“That's amazing,” says Buffet. “That's really significant and of course, we'd be sweating bullets if that were the case.”
So far Uber has only launched its higher class chauffer service in Halifax.
The company has been advertising that it's looking for drivers for the regular service and a spokesperson says Uber aspires to be in every city around the world.
CTV News asked the spokesperson if she thinks the service is working here, but she said only that Halifax is a relatively new market.
“Some of the major cities that Uber's launched in, they're the major cities, tend to be more of a flag down market,” says Herman.
In Halifax, on the other hand, 85 per cent of rides come through dispatch.
The regular service drivers do not have taxi licenses. And don't have commercial insurance.
“I think municipalities should have the right to regulate transportation service,” says Herman.
Taxi drivers say they are watching to see where Uber goes next.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kayla Hounsell