980 CJME

May 15, 2019

Uber launched in Regina on Wednesday and entered its second market in Saskatchewan, three months after it first launched in Saskatoon.

Users of the ridesharing service can now download the Uber app on their smartphones and hail rides at the tap of a button.

Before hailing a ride, users must download the app and create a profile which includes a phone number and payment information like a credit card number.

“It’ll show you your car that you’re matched with, the driver, their picture, their first name, their star rating out of five stars and you’ll be able to watch that vehicle come to pick you up,” said Michael van Hemmen, head of Uber in Western Canada.

When you hail a ride, Uber shows you a map of where the vehicle is located on its way to pick you up. It also displays the final cost of the trip before you get into the vehicle. No cash is exchanged and payment is all done through the app.

“The driver drives you where you’re going. All the time you’re tracked through GPS and when you get to your destination you simply exit the car and payment is tracked automatically and you rate each other out of five stars,” said van Hemmen.

Uber wouldn’t reveal how many drivers signed up in Regina by launch day but van Hemmen was pleased with the level of interest.

“We’ve seen more interest from drivers in Regina at this stage than we did in Saskatoon,” said van Hemmen.

He believes interest grew after Uber’s arrival in Saskatoon, showing its commitment to Saskatchewan. That encouraged new drivers to sign up in Regina to get on the road by Day 1.

It takes a matter of days to become an Uber driver. They need to provide Uber with documentation proving their identity and that they meet proper driver’s licence regulations.

From there, they go through driver screening which includes a criminal record check and driver’s abstract check. Before accepting any rides, the driver much also have their vehicle inspected for safety.

Van Hemmen was behind the wheel for the first Uber ride in Regina, bringing delegates from the provincial government, MADD Canada and Regina Chamber of Commerce to the launch news conference in front of city hall.

A waiting Mayor Michael Fougere was there to welcome them and said as a growing city with an increasing population, Regina deserves to have a service like Uber.

“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 rideshare here, have Uber here, to have choice in the marketplace, to have competition in the marketplace, to serve our residents better,” said Fougere.

Fougere added ridesharing is another tool in the toolbox to provide safe rides home and help reduce impaired driving in Regina.

Ridesharing fares are subject to surge pricing where costs can change depending on multiple factors including demand. Shortly after the launch, an Uber ride from the University of Regina to Mosaic Stadium cost just under $14. A ride from the RCMP Heritage Centre to the new Costco on the eastern outskirts of the city cost just under $23.