Driving Calgary Crazy: The Uber Affair
Should Uber be a Go or a No?
Uber, the deregulated ride sharing brainchild company of Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, was born in Paris in2008.By January 2010, Uber had its first few cars on the pavements in New York City and had become an instant hit. Today, the company has pockets all over the world and is valued at approximately $17 Billion – but what really makes Uber different is the way that it is changing regulations everywhere it goes. Here in Calgary, Uber launched in October 2015. The “UberX” service began running in the city even though government officials threatened violation tickets, court orders and arrests. Calgarians have long awaited Uber, which appeared in Edmonton much earlier, and a multitude of petitions and surveys have circulated in an effort to bring the company here. Since it’s arrival, these petitions have only increased, attempting to wrestle the local government into accepting and even supporting the company. Taxi drivers in Calgary are already struggling during the economic downturn. Many individuals would prefer to support an established industry, while there is a loud social media presence supporting the lower rates and smart phone applications offered by Uber. The primary concern about Uber in Calgary is the lack of vehicle safety regulations and identification or registration of drivers. The City of Edmonton also held these concerns, seeking an injunction in April. This past September, after their injunction was struck down, the City of Edmonton implemented new bylaws that created different license categories for vehicle services. The new bylaws allow Uber drivers to operate legally, while still separating them and their regulations from those of traditional taxi companies. When Edmonton designed their new bylaws, they kept these things in mind, and now require PTP (or private transportation providers) to undergo multiple vehicle checks as well as catering only to pre-arranged rides, rather than attracting spontaneous customers like taxi drivers do. Uber and UberX have yet to comment on the regulations being introduced in cities such as Edmonton – where Uber has been welcomed – and are instead focusing their
efforts on collecting additional signatures on petitions for cities like Calgary – where Uber is being contested. “Uber has shown itself to be flexible in different regulatory environments around the world,” a statement from Mayor Naheed Nenshi said. “It would be helpful for everyone if they demonstrate that same flexibility in Calgary.” Nenshi has not spoken against Uber as a company or ride share programs as a concept, but has issued a written statement discouraging Calgarians from using or working for the company until the City of Calgary regulations have been modified. An injunction by the City of Calgary against drivers using Uber and other private drive-hire services is set for Nov.20. The injunction intends to prevent these services from operating – currently illegally – until a new transport bylaw can be passed. Uber seems largely unaffected by the tension brought by the City, however, updating their Twitter, @Uber_Calgary, on a daily basis with promotions and local partnerships. Many bars and local organizations are working with Uber and UberX in dual promotion efforts, including National and Branded. Their promotions do not stop online, however. On election night (Oct. 19), Uber even offered rides to the polls for free. They have been seen doing similar promotional events in many other new locations, including giving free rides to animal shelters and sporting events in some American cities. Calgarians’ response to Uber has been overwhelmingly positive. DzWelcome to #yyc @Uber_Calgary – having used #uber in 3 cities in Europe & the U.S. in the last year, I’m glad to finally have it here!dz said Brittany Humphry (@bnhumphry) on Twitter, Oct.15. The hashtag #uberyyc has popped upin tweets about the positive side of UberX and the trouble with local taxis. While passengers cannot be fined for using the service, drivers can face up to $4,500 in bylaw fines, and there are covert operations underway todo so. Until the city is able to develop new bylaws, it might be best to stay away from Uber as an employer, at the least. How do you feel about Uber? Hell no, or the way to go? Tweet The Reflector @ReflectThis and tell us what you think about #UberYYC!