Uride ride-sharing hopes to service Kamloops, Kelowna | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Uride ride-sharing hopes to service Kamloops, Kelowna

Uride was started in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The company plans to be one of the first to offer a ride-sharing service in Kamloops.
Image Credit: INSTAGRAM - Uride
September 08, 2019 - 7:00 AM

KAMLOOPS -  After being overlooked by major companies like Uber and Lyft, smaller B.C. cities have hope again for ride-sharing service thanks to a Canadian company.

Uride started in Thunder Bay, Ontario, a northern town that wasn’t offered service by the existing ride-sharing companies. Cody Ruberto, Thunder Bay local and Uride founder and CEO, created his own service to combat the issue of drinking and driving he too often saw.

“Every time I would go out, I would see crowds of people stranded outside of the bars, sometimes at - 30 C. There were very few taxis on the road, and people would regularly wait an hour to an hour and a half,” Ruberto says. “A lot of people would hop into their cars when they shouldn't have been, when they've had a couple of drinks.”

The service works in a way similar to other ride-sharing apps, where you can request a ride from your phone which then tracks your driver as they approach. After operating in Thunder Bay for one year, the company expanded to five more cities, including Winnipeg.

Ruberto says the company is eager to offer service in locations that other ride-sharing companies choose not to. Uride plans to operate in various B.C. cities such as Kelowna, Victoria, Nanaimo, and Prince George.

“In B.C. we’ve been looking at it closely and following the legislation that was being created, and when we heard that some of these bigger players weren't going to be going into this smaller market, we really wanted to step in,” Ruberto says.

Ruberto says the B.C. regulations around ride-sharing, such as the mandatory class four licenses for drivers, has pushed away bigger competitors.

On Wednesday, Ruberto put in an application to the Transportation Safety Board to operate in Kamloops. He says although the application was intensive, he is positive that Uride will receive approval.

“It should go smoothly,” Ruberto says. “It's gone smoothly in every other city that we’ve operated in so I don't expect it to be any different in B.C.”

Ruberto says approval from the Transportation Safety Board will take between four to eight weeks. He hopes to have cars on the road right away once they are approved, as long as they can find the drivers.

“If we have a lot of people applying and a good roster by the time we are approved to operate, we could launch right away,” Ruberto says. “As soon as we get the OK from the province.”

Ruberto hopes to see drivers applying before the province's approval comes in so they can hit the ground rolling. He says some of the full-time drivers for the company receive upwards fo $1,000 a week. There is an opportunity for part-time, evening, and weekend work, as drivers can make their own schedule.

A clean criminal record, driving record, and safe vehicle are all some of the requirements for those looking to drive, as well as the Class 4 license in B.C.

Kamloops city councillor Arjun Singh expects the service to fill a gap in the market if it comes to fruition.

“Ridesharing is obviously is a reality now in the province and I think it’s something that would fill an important niche in the market,” Singh says. “There are times when there's not enough transportation… I have heard from folks who have trouble sometimes at different odd hours for flights, or after the bars close, or on the weekends. Also, just to be able to have more opportunities outside of those hours to have a choice is good.”

Singh highlights how Kamloops taxis need to keep up with regular inspections, and notes that the council hasn’t discussed much on what kind of regulations would be in place for ride-share vehicles.

“We require taxis to be inspected both by the city and I think province requires that as well,” Singh says. “There's a mandated quality standard that the taxi companies have to adhere too, which won't necessarily be the case in ride-sharing companies.”

Singh says the Kamloops taxi companies want a fair playing field when ride-sharing is introduced, but he believes the standards and uniformity of taxi services will keep their customers around.

“I think that its kind of like the notion of Airbnb over a four-star hotel. Airbnb’s, they don't have the room service or all the channels on the TV, there's a different kind of space they occupy in a market,” Singh says. “That’s kind of the difference I see between taxis and ridesharing.”

If you want to apply to drive for Uride in Kamloops, you can do so here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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