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Kelowna  

Taxi industry and rideshare competitors bracing for launch of Uber

Bracing for launch of Uber

It wasn't a matter of if Uber would be granted a licence to operate in Kelowna, but when.

The when is on the horizon after the multi-billion dollar U.S. rideshare giant announced Monday it plans to begin operations sometime next week.

And their competitors, namely the taxi industry and Canadian-owned rideshare Uride, will be watching closely.

"We're excited," said Uride CEO Cody Ruberto of the challenge ahead for his company.

Uride, which has been operating in Kelowna for a little more than a year, has been setting up operations in smaller Canadian cities Ruberto says are underserved by either the taxi or rideshare industry.

Uber's entry into the market will be a new experience for his company.

"It's our first time competing against each other in the same market.

"We are going against a $100 billion U.S. giant, and we're just this little Canadian company. It's definitely a David vs. Goliath scenario."

Ruberto says he believes Uride's edge is that they are local. In fact, he has relocated to Kelowna himself and will run company operations out of the city.

"I've been on the ground talking with tons of people and almost everyone has had great experiences with Uride...they are enjoying our service and want to support a local Canadian company.

"Our focus is to provide the best possible service we can for our customers and our drivers. If we do that well, I think we'll be successful. A lot of people are rooting for us."

After being unsuccessful in its efforts to quash Uber's licence application, the local taxi industry is taking a wait-and-see attitude.

"Because this is new to the taxi industry here, we are going to be watching very closely to see what happens," says Kelowna Cabs spokesperson Roy Paulson.

"We have 90 cars on the road and most of the drivers are paying attention because that affects their livelihood."

Paulson says the industry has taken a close look at how the introduction of Uber into the Vancouver market affected the taxi business there.

"When it first opened up there, it stung the taxi business a little bit and it was slow for quite some time," he told Castanet News.

"They have recovered...not back to where they were before ridesharing launched, but they have bounced back.

"Once we see how it affects there business here, then there are some necessary adjustments we could make."

He says those could include an application to the Passenger Transportation Board to drop meter rates.

Paulson also believes Kelowna is not yet big enough to support another player in the market.

While the city remains the fastest growing metropolitan area in the country, he says there are only so many calls for rides whether they be for rideshare or taxis.

"It's going to be interesting to sit back and see how it works."

Where Paulson says it will be a benefit is late at night on weekends during what is termed "bar flush."

It will help 100 per cent, he says, during those peak times when there are not enough taxis on the road.

Uber has yet to announce exactly when they will launch their service next week. More details are expected any day now.



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