UBER launches in Calgary with 500 drivers

UBER has received the green light in Calgary.After over a year of research and planning, the ride-sharing program which allows drivers and passengers to connect through their phone, will hit the road at 2 p.m. Thursday.Calgary businessman and philanthropist Brett Wilson will also be part of the inaugural ride at 8 a.m. as part of the launch.Ramit Kar, General Manager of UBER Alberta said to date, there are roughly 500 Calgary drivers and tens of thousands registered passengers, as company representatives have met with the mayor’s office.UBER exists already in 30 Canadian municipalities, including Edmonton, which launched the service nine months ago.“We started with far fewer drivers in Edmonton, close to 100 to 200 drivers,” Kar said. “What we found is in the nine months that we’ve been operating in Edmonton, we’ve passed 2,000 drivers now and we’ve actually seen the demand for ride-sharing in Edmonton seems to be doubling for four months.”One of the major questions since UBER doesn’t fall into any current business framework in Calgary is if livery officers will fine drivers until legislation is written.“When we met with the city, I would say they expressed an understanding that this is something that they felt was coming,” said UBER Communications Lead Xavier Van Chau. “I would also say that while they expressed some concerns about how UBER operates, we shared with them our perspective on why we think UBER is a distinct business model that can bring value to Calgary.”“We just want to make sure that we are at the table to ensure that smart regulations are put into place,” Kar said.In the case drivers are fined or faced with other penalties, Kar said they’ll stand by them.“We will support our drivers 100 per cent,” he said. “We’ll either pay for their fines or we will support them with a lawyer.”The move has also been heavily opposed by Calgary cab drivers, even though some have registered to work for UBER, which allows drivers to get behind the wheel whenever they want.According to the company, drivers earn about $23.40 in gross hourly earnings across all times and areas in Toronto.“From a business standpoint, we think that UBER represents a wonderful opportunity for an individual who makes $35,000 a year, to bump themselves up to $55,000 a year and for them, that’s a big deal,” Van Chau said.Although there isn’t any business license for the company, there are still multiple requirements drivers must meet.The company insists on RCMP and local police background checks, driver records, and no more than two tickets in the last three years, among other conditions.All payment is done through credit card information on the app and passengers receive a receipt in the car, although their first two rides are free.When passengers connect with a driver, they’re also given their photo, picture and license number.Cars must also be four doors and can’t be older than 10 years or in rebuilt status and require an inspection done by a provincially-certified inspector.As for cost, UBER has a base fee of $2.75 per ride, $1.00 per kilometer, $0.25 per minute, an entry ride fee of $1.85 and all rides must make it to at least $5.00.Those prices can change based on ‘dynamic pricing’ when demand outnumbers supply, but Kar said that only happens about 10 per cent of the time because drivers receive notifications of where high demand areas are.UBER’s statistics estimate their rides are about 30 per cent less costly than the average taxi, with an average wait time for the car of five minutes, no matter what time of day or night.Rides are also GPS-tracked with 24-hour monitored support.As for insurance, all drivers require their own, but UBER also provides contingent liability coverage for every ride up to $5 million in the case of an accident.For more info, click here. UBER launches in Calgary with 500 drivers by News Staff Posted Oct 15, 2015 5:05 am MDT Last Updated Oct 15, 2015 at 11:52 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email KAITLIN LEE/660 NEWS read more