Uber gauging interest of local drivers

First Edmonton, next Red Deer?

First Edmonton, next Red Deer?

The ride-hailing company Uber hosted an information session to gauge interest at the Baymont Inn and Suites on Thursday evening.

The event was closed to the media but between 30 and 40 people attended with four Uber representatives.

It is part of the company’s ongoing work to assess driver interest while it expands to cities across Canada, said Jean-Christophe De Le Rue, Senior Communications Associate, Canada.

“While we don’t have specific launch plans for Red Deer, I can tell you that Uber aims to expand to communities across Canada and we’re always looking at ensuring that safe, affordable and reliable rides are available everywhere in the country,” said De Le Rue in a news release.

Edmonton became the first Canadian city this week to legalize the drivers on the road, starting on March 1.

Associate Cab owner Daryl Frenette said Edmonton will regret that decision.

He said the company will extract as much as 30 per cent out of the local economy and send it to California.

“Why would any council want that to happen,” said Frenette. “Why would you do that? Where is the gain? You just put a bunch of people who are paying mortgages, raising their children, taxpayers out of business? I don’t fathom that concept.”

Mayor Tara Veer was not available for comment on Thursday. To date there has been no discussion at council about the possibility of Uber moving into Red Deer.

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Frenette said his company has a strong working relationship with the city.

“There are lots of changes happening in Alberta right now,” said Frenette. “This may be one of them. We certainly are not opening up our doors and saying come on in because there is only a small amount of business as there is.”

Frenette said his 66 drivers are trained and take pride in their work and follow all the regulations, something he says is not true of the Uber drivers. He said the company does not have proper insurance, inspections and registrations. He gave a laundry list of issues related to the service including surge pricing.

“Our rates are not out of this world. They are sustainable living wage for our drivers. That’s what our rates are aimed at.”

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

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