Time spent waiting in the cold for a ride home Saturday nights just got a little bit shorter. Over a year since its original launch, ride-sharing service Uber is finally up and running in Calgary again.

One of the biggest concerns about Uber’s launch in Calgary, is how it would affect the existing taxi industry. But Kurt Enders, president of Checker Transportation Group is not concerned.

“We always knew they were going to come,” says Enders. “The industry as a whole—I think Calgary has always had a very good taxi service outside of, potentially, the peak periods like Christmas, which everyone struggles during that time. All it does, is it will make for a stronger, better Calgary and we’ll prevail and ride this out and survive.”

Uber offers its service through an app which features live tracking of drivers’ vehicle and estimates the total cost of the ride. There’s also no cash involved, as the fare is charged directly to a credit card.

How Uber made its debut in Calgary from MRU Journalism and Broadcasting on Vimeo.

When the ride is over, you can rate your driver and your driver can rate you, ensuring everyone involved is behaving their best.

A Calgary Uber driver, who did not wish to be named, says he likes having the option of making some money during the winter months, when there is little construction work.

The company originally launched in Calgary back in October 2015. The city reacted strongly due to concerns of proper licensing, background checks and insurance; threatening Uber drivers could face fines amounting to $4,500.

The city used private investigators to catch Uber drivers still operating and in November 2015, a Court of Queen’s Bench judge sided with the city and ordered a temporary injunction restricting Uber operations in the city.

The city planned to make the injunction permanent, but on December 11, 2015, the city of Calgary and Uber agreed to work together on finding a solution that worked.

In February 2016, the city made amendments to the bylaw that loosened background check requirements, but did not change the fee structure. Those changes, however, were not enough for Uber.

On Monday, Nov. 28, City Council voted in favor of changing the Livery Transport Bylaw fee structure. Previously, companies had to pay a licensing fee of nearly $1,800 as well as $220 per driver. The new structure requires an annual administration fee, dependent on the number of drivers working for a given company, $0.20 per ride and $15 per driver. Now, transportation network companies, or Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), like Uber, can choose which fee structure to operate under.

In the same November decision, 222 more taxi plates were added for existing cab companies.

Uber launched again just in time for the holidays on December 6. The fee structure changes will once again be reviewed later in 2017.

pmcaleer@cjournal.ca & mbenning@cjournal.ca

The editor responsible for this article is Josie Lukey and can be contacted at jlukey@cjournal.ca

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