Over the past few months, numerous Canadian cities have been forced to contend with a new transit service provider who is changing our expectations of on-demand transportation. The uber-popular and uber-controversial Uber is an app-based transportation network and taxi company that connects independent drivers with riders, providing real time maps that include ETAs, two-way ratings systems, cashless transactions and more. In Toronto and Ottawa, Uber has been met with legal challenges to bring the company in line with municipal bylaws, as well as very public backlashes from taxi drivers and the commissions representing them. Recently the battle in our nation’s capital made international headlines thanks to undercover city staffers who took Uber for a spin just to present drivers with fines upwards of $650 per violation. In spite of these costly penalties, Uber has thus far been undeterred in making their presence known in select Canadian cities, as well as scouting new markets for possible expansion.
For many communities, it’s not a question of if Uber will come to town, but when will they arrive. Kingstonians have also been wondering about the arrival of the app-based taxi company, who recently held an information session in the city to attract and educate potential drivers. While Uber may be considering adding Kingston to their roster of cities, local experts contend that the Limestone City may be too small and far too susceptible to cyclical fluctuations associated with our post-secondary populations for Uber to work here. Furthermore, one could also argue that we are already well served by Amey’s, Modern and City taxis, as well as Kingston Transit’s fleet which includes accessible and express options. Accordingly, this week’s poll asks:
Would you take a ride with Uber in Kingston?
- Yes, absolutely. (57%, 153 Votes)
- No, I'll stick with local taxis and buses. (28%, 76 Votes)
- Maybe, it depends on the situation. (13%, 34 Votes)
- I rarely take rides with taxis or buses. (1%, 4 Votes)
Total Voters: 267
The most vocal critics of Uber complain that the company isn’t playing by the same same rules as the remainder of the taxi industry, which may give them an unfair advantage, but it also opens up riders and drivers to potentially unacceptable amounts of risk. The Insurance Bureau of Canada issued a warning to would-be Uber drivers and passengers last Fall, stating that personal auto insurance would not cover individuals in the event of accident or injury, rather more expensive commercial insurance was required. Other concerns about driver qualifications, background and security checks have also been raised by taxi commissions who are quick to point out that their drivers satisfy all screening and training requirements.
In recent years, Kingston’s taxi companies may have taken a bit of the wind out of Uber’s sails by upgrading their fleets, and unveiling their own apps for conveniently ordering and tracking a taxi. Even so, these advancements may not be enough to discourage Uber from making a move into Kingston. Further, they may not be enough to quell the curiosity of riders who are willing to take a chance and see what all the fuss is about.
Do you think Kingston needs Uber, or better yet, do you think Uber will eventually roll into Kingston? How likely are you to request a ride with Uber instead of your favourite local cab company?
Photo credit to Joakim Formo.