Uber sets re-launch date for Calgary
Officials with the ride sharing service Uber says that they are ready to hit the streets of Calgary and fill a need they say residents have been craving for a long time.
Earlier this week, city council approved the bylaw changes the service was looking for by a vote of 11-4.
On Wednesday, Ramit Kar, Uber’s general manager for Western Canada, spoke with the media outside City Hall and said that the company has chosen December 6 as their re-launch date.
“This is a great day for Calgary on both sides. Number one, for driver-partners, it gives thousands of Calgarians a chance to earn a flexible opportunity to make a living. And also, for the hundreds of thousands of riders who are also looking for a safe transportation alternative to get home coming into the holiday season, we’ll be able to start serving them.”
He says over 100,000 Calgarians have downloaded the app and hundreds of others have already signed up to be drivers.
Kenneth Javid, one of Calgary’s driver-partners says he was working in the oil and gas industry after moving his family from Pakistan.
He says he lost his job in 2015 because of the oil crisis and secured employment as an Uber driver soon afterwards.
“I applied for Uber and they asked for some requirements that I fulfilled.”
He worked for six weeks during Uber’s first launch last year before the city shut it down, but is happy to be able to drive again.
Javid added that if he does get a job again in the oil industry, he will continue as an Uber driver on a part-time basis.
The bylaw changes helped both the fee structure for the company and the application process for drivers looking to join Uber’s fleet.
As well, drivers will have to be insured and have background checks before they’re allowed to take passengers.
Companies will now be charged $15 per driver instead of $220, a 20-cent per trip fee and an administration fee depending on how many drivers are working for the company.
But not everyone is happy with Uber’s entrance into the Calgary cab market. Taxi drivers who attended the council meeting on Monday accused the city and Mayor Nenshi of brokering a back room deal with Uber.
They say the company got special treatment, but Uber says that wasn’t the case.
“We’ve been in continuing discussions for the better part of two years with city council, with the mayor’s office, with administration and, quite frankly, the changes that were approved on Monday are pretty much the standard that’s been found across Canada in terms of city after city when it comes to ride share programs. So it’s a small tweak to existing bylaws and we hope that will make a meaningful impact to Calgary.”
Kar says the company will now be working through the logistics in the coming days to make sure the service is everything that people hoped it would be.
He added that Uber will also include accessible options for riders.
As for the injunction that was imposed last year to prevent the service from operating in the city in contravention to the bylaw, Kar is optimistic that the issue will be resolved before the launch date.