Here’s the latest entry in my Edmonton Etcetera series, in which I share some thoughts on a few topical items in one post. Less than I’d write in a full post on each, but more than I’d include in Edmonton Notes. Have feedback? Let me know!
Uber suspends service in Edmonton
Today the City’s new Vehicle for Hire Bylaw came into effect. It should have been a great day for Uber and its supporters, but unfortunately the company was forced to suspend operations due to being unable to obtain sufficient insurance to meet Provincial regulations. The Province announced its plan for what it calls “ride-for-hire services” yesterday. There are three key areas in which the Province is taking action:
- “Insurance: by July 1, an interim insurance product that will provide adequate coverage to Uber drivers and their passengers will be in place. The interim insurance framework has been approved by the Superintendent of Insurance.”
- “Licensing: all ride-for-hire drivers, including Uber, will continue to require Class 4 Driver Licences or better.”
- “Police Checks: regulations will be amended to require all ride-for-hire drivers to have a police information check conducted by police.”
It’s the July 1 date for insurance that is the big problem. Brian Mason, Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation, tweeted that Uber “has known all along that insurance wouldn’t be ready til summer.” But Uber said it only learned of the timeline yesterday and apparently neither did City Council.
Uber did say that it would continue operating in surrounding communities like St. Albert where there is no approved regulation, which apparently caught Brian Mason by surprise. “I had not been aware that Uber was going to try and deliberately operate against the law,” he told CBC Edmonton. “That concerns me a great deal and we’ll be having some conversations with our officials.” Umm…where exactly has he been for the last year?
TappCar and other PTPs prepare to launch
According to the City, five regional (Metro Airport, Anytime Taxi, Cowboy Taxi, Dollar Cab and a Private Individual) and one commercial (Tapp Car) Private Transportation Providers (PTP) have been granted licenses under the new bylaw. Not much is known yet about the regional PTPs, but TappCar does look rather interesting and has been featured in the media in recent days.
Image courtesy of TappCar
TappCar is a local company that promises “a new standard of service…that is convenient, reliable and safe.” They having been working to sign up drivers for their launch.
“TappCar offers an industry-leading mobile app, in addition to phone and web booking. Vehicles are guaranteed to be of comfortable size and quality. Drivers are properly insured and professionally licensed, and each vehicle has a two way camera installed, ensuring every ride is safe.”
You’ll be able to book a car using their app, website, or by calling the dispatch. TappCar is planning to launch mid-March if all goes well.
Provincial Transit Strategy
Today the Province announced it is looking for input on a new transit strategy for Alberta:
“There will be two streams of engagement – urban and rural – and an online public survey, all of which will inform the development of an overall provincial transit strategy and criteria for future funding for municipal transit initiatives and rural bus service.”
For the purposes of the strategy, urban communities are defined as having more than 10,000 residents with rural communities having fewer than 10,000. Clearly there’s a difference between the transit needs of Wetaskiwin with 13,000 people and Edmonton with more than 870,000, however.
Both Calgary and Edmonton have made it very clear that investing in public transit is a key priority. The big cities face unique transportation challenges, and require financial support from the Province to deal with them. Having said that, there are some common trends happening across Alberta, like the fact that young people are increasingly choosing other methods of transportation besides driving.
“In 2014, 67.2 per cent of Albertans age 18 to 24 held any class of Alberta drivers’ licence, down from 70.9 per cent in 2005.”
You can provide input on the strategy here until April 29, 2016.
Edmonton is in the middle of revamping its own Transit Strategy, a process that is expected to wrap up in the middle of 2017. Initial feedback was that Edmontonians want a fast, frequent, and reliable transit network that connects them to major destinations like work, school, and shopping, and that they place a high value on having a safe & secure, easy to use system.