Two Grande Prairie business owners have moved into the ridesharing market in the city and surrounding communities creating more mobility possibilities in the region.
Locals can now pre-book or hail a car from the Y Dive app on their smartphones.
Y Drive launched in Grande Prairie in April. Currently, approximately 13 drivers are in use with another six on the way.
The app operates similar to Uber or Lyft, where payments are made within the app and passengers can see how much a trip will cost them before booking their ride.
“The big advantage is once you book the ride and it's been accepted, you get to see who your driver is, you get to see what the car looks like, and you get to see how far (away) the driver is,” said Gezim Veliu, Alberta managing partner for Y Drive.
He said Y Drive operates within a 60-kilometre radius of the city, noting that people in Sexsmith or Beaverlodge would be eligible for a pick-up.
Veliu says the app can also be used by a third party to book for people who may have trouble using the app, such as seniors and children.
With many families having parents working long hours, Veliu said Y Drive could also be set up to pick up children, and parents can see when their child is picked up and dropped off all through the app.
“You get to track the whole process without being there, which is a huge relief for parents as well,” he said. He noted Y Drive may be able to offer the same driver on regular, booked trips so there is familiarity. Other safety options, such as creating safe words, can be used so children can be sure they are entering the right car.
Drivers for Y Drive are vetted and are required to have a Class 4 license and clear background checks, including a vulnerable sector check, along with a driver's abstract. A chauffeur permit is also required from the city.
The city also requires criminal record checks, including a vulnerable sector check to receive a chauffeur permit.
The city introduced an online booking system for Grande Prairie Accessible Transit (GPAT) riders earlier this month. GPAT is a door-to-door transit service for people with permanent or temporary disabilities that prevent them from using fixed route transit.
The website allows users to track the bus and receive text notifications of 15 minutes before the busses arrival and arrival.
The city says it plans to have an app available later this year, but GPAT users can go to gpat.app.ridewithvia.com.
Moving forward, Y Drive hopes to create a premium service that will be more like a limo service and is currently recruiting more drivers.
Y Drive was started in Peterborough, Ontario, by two former Grande Prairie residents, said Veliu.
Grande Prairie is the second city Y Drive has begun operating in.
According to its website, Y Drive is also looking to expand into Fort McMurray.
Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News