Uber is a company that revolutionized the industry by providing on-demand taxi services to clients. Instead of having to hail a taxi or arrange a safe ride home, Uber provides on-demand services at the touch of a button via their app. While Uber launched in 2009, it wasn’t until 2014 that it began in Canada.
Different cities and municipalities welcomed Uber at different times, with Edmonton being the first city to start it in 2016. Vancouver was one of the last large cities in North America to allow Uber, not receiving it until 2020 after a significant public push to make it happen. Today, there are 140 cities and municipalities in nine provinces with Uber.
A full list of Canadian cities with Uber is available here, but some of these cities with Uber include:
- British Columbia: Vancouver
- Alberta: Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Red Deer
- Saskatchewan: Regina, Saskatoon
- Manitoba: Winnipeg
- Ontario: Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Ottawa, Toronto
- Quebec: Gatineau, Quebec City, Montreal
Uber has undoubtedly changed the way people use transportation, so let’s look a little further at the impact of Uber in Canada and how it came to be.
Uber in Canada
Uber recently put out a report titled “The Impact of Uber in Canada” which highlights some key information and facts. Here is a summary of the main points:
- Uber operates in 140 municipalities in Canada
- Earnings of drivers and delivery people (through UberEats) and the impact of restaurants unlocked an estimated $6.5 billion in the Canadian economy in 2020
- Uber saved riders approximately 13,000,000 hours a year because of the convenience and ease of traveling from one place to another
- Traveling to work or to get somewhere fast are the top two reasons to ride with Uber, but Canadians also use Uber to visit friends or family, go shopping, carry heavy items somewhere, or visit a restaurant or bar
Challenges for Uber in Canada
Even though Uber is now operating across Canada, it wasn’t necessarily an easy path. Some municipalities fought the arrival of Uber, concerned that it would wipe out the taxi industry or be otherwise negative in the city.
Vancouver, British Columbia was the last major city in Canada, and even in North America to get Uber. There were a number of reasons for this, including a strong taxi lobby fighting against Uber and other ride-hailing apps that would decrease their business. Another reason was that the taxi license industry provided significant revenue, and so without that type of licensing, the city would lose that money.
Vancouver is not the only Canadian city that made it challenging for Uber to launch. Because it isn’t a standardized and regulated industry, such as the taxi industry, each municipality had to negotiate with Uber individually and come up with an agreement.
As this report states, Mississauga, Ontario did not initially welcome Uber. Additionally, operations were suspended temporarily in Edmonton and Calgary. In many cities, drivers are required to have a commercial driving license, which can be a barrier for some people to drive.
Uber Eats Canada
So far, we’ve been discussing Uber as a ride-hailing service. However, Uber also operates Uber Eats, the wildly popular food delivery service. This service competes with other food delivery services like SkipTheDishes or DoorDash.
Uber Eats operates in nearly all the same cities in Canada that Uber operates in, including Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Hamilton, London, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, and more. The full list is available here.
Is Uber a good choice?
While Uber is widely available in most Canadian cities, the question stands: is Uber a good choice? Especially in comparison to the traditional taxi option, is Uber a better choice? There are numerous pros for Uber, including:
- Convenient, on-demand service
- Competitive pricing with pre-priced routes, so no additional fees because of traffic, wait-time, or a taxi driver running up the meter
- Easy to use the app
- Safety, security, and cleanliness policies and procedures in place
- Rating system helps ensure good customer service and cleanliness
- Flexible job opportunities for those who want to drive for the company
While 82% of Canadians stated that convenience was the biggest factor in deciding to take an Uber, the cost is also an important consideration. Uber offers competitive rates but is not always cheaper than a taxi.
This article explains some reasons why prices change and when it is cheaper to take an Uber or taxi. The article states that it is usually cheaper to take a taxi for short trips, while an Uber is cheaper for longer trips or outside of the city center.
In Canada, a study from 2015 shows that in cities like Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal, Uber was significantly cheaper than a taxi. Customers save up to 50% by taking an Uber in these cities! In Vancouver, Uber’s rates are comparable to that of a taxi.
Ultimately, it seems like the convenience and on-demand nature of Uber is the clear reason to choose it over a taxi. There may be some cost benefit at certain times, but this is not guaranteed.
Uber Expansion in Canada
Uber plans to continue growing and expanding its operations in Canada. There are plans to expand to new cities and municipalities. Uber has also announced their expansion of Uber Green, an electric (EV) and hybrid vehicle option. Some Canadian cities are included in this expansion, like Winnipeg.
The goal of Uber Green is to help fight climate change by reducing emissions. To promote EV and hybrid options, drivers received increased pay from the rider surcharge for Uber Green trips.
Uber has dramatically changed the way people get around, especially in major cities. It is competing directly with the taxi industry, which has made the implementation of Uber challenging in some cities in Canada, like Vancouver, where there is a strong taxi lobby.
Despite challenges getting started, Uber now operates in 140 municipalities in Canada, including all the major cities. They also operate Uber Eats, a popular food delivery service. Uber has made a positive impact on the Canadian economy and continues to be a popular choice for customers looking for a convenient, easy way to get to their next destination.