Uber launching in Halifax, other ride-hailing companies en route

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People in Halifax will be able to order an Uber starting Thursday afternoon, and at least one other ride-hailing company is eyeing a launch in the city before the end of the year.

Uber said in a news release that its smartphone app, which connects people looking for transportation with a driver, will go live for the Halifax region at 1 p.m. Thursday.

However, the company encouraged residents to stick to public health guidelines and only use it for essential travel like getting to a doctor's appointment or pharmacy.

Uber did not share any more information when asked about details by CBC, including how many drivers are active in Halifax, or how many have applied.

A map of Uber's coverage area on its website shows that the urban core will be included, as well as more suburban and rural areas like Timberlea, Fall River and Eastern Passage. The company said its service area will expand as the number of drivers increases.

Uber also said it's providing 2,000 free rides to front-line workers and families in need, through Partners for Care's Helping Healthcare Heroes program and Ronald McDonald House Charities Atlantic.

Council cleared the way this fall

Uber's app puts the company in direct competition with members of the taxi industry, something that has sparked outcry in places like Toronto.

Still, some people in Halifax have complained that the taxi industry in the municipality doesn't meet people's needs and there are often long delays in getting cabs at peak times.

In September, Halifax council gave ride-hailing services like Uber the green light to operate in the municipality. They have stated they hoped to launch in the city before the end of 2020.

The Canadian ride-hailing company Uride has yet to launch in Halifax, but its founder said it will be live by the end of the year.

Heather Kitching/CBC
Heather Kitching/CBC

Cody Ruberto said the company has had over 700 people apply to be drivers, but could not immediately say how many had been accepted.

In an email, Ruberto said he believes both Uber and Uride can operate in the same city since this is the case in many other areas. Halifax "deserves" this type of service, Ruberto said, and residents want choice.

"Uride is a homegrown Canadian rideshare business, and we really care about the people here. Our goal is to provide reliable, safe affordable transportation, and we want to give back to the community any way we can," he wrote.

Ruberto also noted they "rarely have price increases," which differs from Uber's model of surge pricing during busy times that he believes can turn people away.

"We do whatever we can to keep pricing affordable, while working to ensure reliable coverage," Ruberto said.

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