Pedal to the metal for Uber in local area

·3 min read

The RMs of Edenwold and Lajord, the towns of Balgonie and Pilot Butte, and other neighbouring communities around Regina are Uber happy a ridesharing firm has taken out a licence to operate in their communities.

Uber is the first company of its kind to sign on locally after several municipalities in the area recently established bylaws to allow ridesharing firms to pick up passengers in their communities via a regional business license.

“We are very excited this is getting started now,” RM planning and development manager Jana Jedlic said. “We thought we were a couple of weeks out, but that it’s up and running today is great.”

In order to use Uber, people will need to download the Uber app to their smartphone and connect a payment method through the app. From there, you can request a ride, a driver in the area will accept the ride request and electronically inform you when they will arrive. Your fare is then calculated and charged to your Uber account.

“We are pleased to offer a safe and affordable option to help local residents get where they need to go, when they need to,” Uber Canada general manager Matthew Price said in a press release. “And for those with a clean driving record, a flexible opportunity to earn money on their own.”

Until more drivers from the new service area sign on and qualify to drive for Uber, Regina drivers will service the area, which could lengthen wait times in the short term.

There is also one catch. The nature of the regional business license granted to Uber means the company’s drivers can pick you up from any of the participating communities, and take you anywhere. However, to make it a round trip, the community you travelled to must also have a bylaw allowing ridesharing, or you’ll have to make other arrangements to get back to your starting point. For example, should someone call Uber for a ride from Emerald Park to a community within the RM of Francis, which does not have this bylaw in place, they could not legally return to Emerald Park by the same means.

While White City is not yet a part of the municipal partnership initiating ridesharing, negotiations are reportedly underway, and Jedlic added that other communities in the area may be approached about participating in the regional license as well.

“The catalyst for us for this project is you in the business community,” Jedlic told the White City-Emerald Park Business Association on Feb. 10. “You are looking for transportation options, and that will help you attract and retain staff in your businesses. Among our partners, others had other interests. Some wanted options for independent elderly residents, others wanted to curb drinking and driving.”

Both drivers and riders are subject to COVID-19 protocols, mandating mask use, and participating in contact tracing should there be a possible transmission of the virus.

Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Quad Town Forum