Regina Leader-Post

May 15, 2019

The wait is finally over after ride-sharing giant Uber officially launched in Regina on Wednesday afternoon.

“We’ve been waiting for this day for a long, long time and I know that council and all Regina residents are really, really pleased to finally have ride-share here and have Uber here,” said Mayor Michael Fougere.

Ride-sharing not only serves residents by giving them more choice and adding competition to the marketplace, said Fougere, but is also an important tool in the fight against impaired driving.

“We have a fundamental issue with of drinking and driving and we have to deal with that issue as a community and as a province,” he said. “This is one tool in the tool box do deal with that issue at a local level.”

While not a lot of data has been collected in Canada on the impact of ride-sharing on impaired driving, Tracy Crawford with Mothers Against Drunk Driving is optimistic that Uber’s presence will make a difference.

“From what we’ve seen in the U.S. specifically, it has made a very positive impact,” said Crawford who is the regional manager for MADD in western Canada. “We know it’s going to definitely make a big impact on people making the choice to not drive impaired because you have additional options out there.”

The launch of Uber comes almost three months after a ride-sharing bylaw was passed by city council in February. Riders and drivers could download their respective apps as of Wednesday afternoon.

Residents interested in signing up to become a driver can do so in as little as a day or two start to finish, said Michael van Hemmen, head of western Canada for Uber.

“We see drivers as important partners with Uber to help reduced impaired driving and to increase access to transportation in cities across western Canada and now in Regina,” he said at the launch event held outside City Hall on Wednesday.

Van Hemmen said there’s been more driver interest in Regina at this stage than there was in Saskatoon.

For riders, van Hemmen said the process is quick and user-friendly. Once the app is downloaded and riders have provided their payment information simply type in a destination when the app prompts you to. The app will show which vehicle you’ve been matched to, the driver’s first name and picture and their star rating.

Riders can watch the vehicle as it makes its way to them and the vehicle is tracked via GPS while they are driven to their destination. Once riders have arrived, payment happens automatically and they simply exist the vehicle and the driver and the rider rate each other.

“That’s something for riders as well to get used to is that riders, make sure you’re behaving appropriately and respectfully as well,” said van Hemmen.

According to information from Uber, a typical ride from Whitmore Park to downtown costs about $14 to $16, from Victoria Park to the airport about $12.50 to $14.50, and from the University of Regina to downtown about $12 to $14.

When asked how he thought the taxi industry might react now that ride-sharing has become a reality in the Queen City, Minister Responsible for SGI Joe Hargrave said healthy competition is good.

“It’s like opening up another restaurant,” he said. “There’s always competition and think there’s nothing wrong with competition. That is how the economy works.”

“There’s still lots of room for the taxi industry,” he added. “I think they’ll still be very active.”

Regina is the second city in Saskatchewan to welcome Uber. The ride-share giant began operations in Saskatoon in February.