Uber, the ride-hailing app, is being embraced by the town of Innisfil in Canada at time when cities across the country and world are pushing back against the service.
According to a report in The New York Times, leaders in the small but spread-out town have embraced Uber as a cheaper means of transportation, which is causing concerns among taxi companies in the town.
The town of 36,000 people doesn’t have public transportation besides stops on a regional bus line, and this week launched a new pilot program in which the town is providing subsidized transportation for its residents via Uber.
“It’s a better value for money than a traditional transit system,” Tim Cane, Innisfil’s manager of Land Use Planning, said in an interview with the New York Times. The paper noted the town put around $74,000 aside for the program, giving Uber the money to subsidize rides. The money will go to make up the costs of a ride and fixed amount the passenger pays. It will also cover the discount of five Canadian dollars per ride for trips that are not priced at a fixed rate. This isn’t the first deal Uber has signed with a transit agency, but those deals are usually complementary to existing bus or subways service — not in lieu of it.
“It’s still a small part of our business, but it’s growing,” said Andrew Salzberg, Uber’s head of Transportation Policy and Research in the report. Uber had a “couple dozen” transit agreements so far using different models, he told the paper.
While the town thinks its idea with Uber is smart, not everyone in Innisfil is happy. Manjot Saini, the owner of Global Taxi Innisfil, told the New York Times he offered to charge $0.50 lower than Uber per ride, but his offer went unheeded. “I’m providing the same service as Uber, but they said Uber’s technology is better,” he said in the report.