Cab firms unite to keep Uber away
Winnipeg Taxi Alliance seeks to raise awareness
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/09/2015 (2514 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeg’s two largest taxi companies have joined forces to mount a public-awareness campaign about their services as a pro-active attempt to thwart the arrival of Uber into the Winnipeg market.
Duffy’s Taxi and Unicity Taxi formed the so-called Winnipeg Taxi Alliance to serve as its primary vehicle of getting the word out about their good service record.
Luc Lewandoski, spokesman for the alliance said, “We are looking to do a campaign over the next few months that will be raising the issues both in terms of bringing awareness to the actual service cabs provide in Winnipeg and also address some of the concerns of outside operations like ride-sharing services or bandit cabs.”
Lewandoski said this is not about “Uber bad: taxis good,” however, Uber’s potential entrance into the Winnipeg market is clearly on their minds.
This week, Toronto city council is voting on formally legalizing Uber in that city, which might open the way for the global ride-sharing service to start up in Winnipeg and other Canadian cities.
Its website states Uber already operates in more than 175 cities in North America including Toronto, Edmonton, Ottawa, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo Montreal and Quebec City.
Asked why he thinks the Winnipeg taxi companies will be able to forestall the arrival of Uber into Winnipeg — it already operates in about 60 countries — Lewandoski compared it to the former popularity of the file-sharing service Napster.
“When I was in university, we were all using Napster, but I think most of us thought that it would not be around for the long term,” he said.
Lewandoski believes the presence of a single auto insurer in Manitoba also makes this market a little different that other jurisdictions.
One of the tactics the legacy taxi business is using these days to warn consumers against Uber involves instances where Uber drivers’ insurance is voided because drivers are using vehicles for commercial purposes.
Among other things, the Winnipeg taxi companies want to promote the fact they have a good track record of service and their operations — including the setting of fares — are regulated by the province through the Manitoba Taxicab Board.
He said the concern is Uber is entering markets before they have the legal right to do so.
“Once they have a customer base, they think they can bully their way into being approved after the fact,” Lewandoski said. “Uber and other ride-sharing models are only profitable for the driver and the company if they flout local laws when it comes to safety or vehicle maintenance or things like that.”
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.