Halifax, Canada – The United Cab Drivers Association of Halifax says the arrival of Uber in the city is making an already difficult time for the industry even worse.
Darshan Virk with the association says taxi drivers are already suffering, as ridership is down over 50 per cent since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Now with Uber in the mix, Virk feels many won’t be making enough money to move forward.
“It’s making a bad situation worse,” said Virk. “(Taxi drivers) have been working here for decades, they’re paying taxes to the City of Halifax, now they’re being put out of business.”
The popular ridesharing app made the announcement on Tuesday after their licence from the city came through.
“We wanted to be live in Halifax before the end of the year and we moved as quickly as we (could),” said Matthew Price, general manager of Uber Canada.
Price says the company’s decision to enter the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) is meant to assist essential travel. The company urges residents to respect and follow the measures when using their service.
“We think ridesharing is as important as ever during a pandemic,” said Price. “There are still people moving from A to B for essential purposes, and a lot of people without their own vehicle.”
The path was paved for ridesharing companies to operate in the HRM back in September, when the province’s transportation department announced a plan to create a “Class 4” licence that will no longer require holders to retake the province’s road and knowledge tests.
Uber Canada has not confirmed exactly how many drivers they currently have in Halifax, but they say they certainly need more.
“The more that we have, the more reliable we’ll be across the largest geography possible,” said Price.
Gurmeet Randhawa is one of those drivers. He says within 10 minutes of the app being launched, he was hailed to his first ride.
“I’m enjoying here with the rides, with the riders, the students are there, the workers are there,” said Randhawa. “I’m pretty excited.”
To become an Uber driver, applicants need to register and complete the sign-up process on the company’s website.
They’ll be required to get criminal background checks every year and have their identities checked with the child abuse registry.
Uber also operates under a no mask, no ride policy. The tech giant has been delivering PPE to drivers in Halifax, similar to what they’ve done in other markets across Canada.
As for Darshan Virk, he’s calling on the new council to revisit the matter and vote to change the bylaw that allows ridesharing companies in Halifax, as it was before.
“What’s happening is because of the decisions made by the former council,” said Virk. “They have to change it. They have to change the way they manage the taxi industry.”