Order in: Red Deer residents chose Uber, Skip the Dishes during deep freeze

Red Deer’s public transit service saw decline in usage during January’s cold snap

When it gets really cold, like it did last week in Red Deer, people choose to stay indoors and order in.

That’s a Canada-wide trend, said a spokesperson for the food delivery system Skip the Dishes, and Red Deerians chose to do the same thing during the recent deep freeze, when temperatures plummeted to -30 C and below.

The top three most popular food items ordered last week in Red Deer were McDoubles, Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers and chicken wraps.

Milkshakes, which were one of 2019’s most ordered items, didn’t make the list last week.

Skip the Dishes experienced an approximate 12 per cent spike in orders last week compared to the previous week.

Uber in Red Deer also experienced an increase in usage during the deep freeze, a boost of more than 20 per cent from the week prior.

Michael van Hemmen, head of Western Canada for Uber, said there are seasonal spikes to the business, but the recent increase is directly attributable to weather conditions.

“We continue to see increased interest from riders and drivers. From riders to get an affordable ride, and from drivers to make money that’s important to them and their families in Red Deer,” van Hemmen said.

The spikes are especially noticeable when bars are closing and during rush hours – when people are going to work or getting off work – “and the cold weather just amplifies that.”

Uber is always looking to partner with drivers, said van Hemmen, adding the company is working with Red Deer city council on new regulations the city is considering for companies such as Uber and Lyft.

While Skip the Dishes and Uber witnessed an increase in business during the deep freeze, Red Deer public transit service saw a decline.

Transit manager George Penny said the decrease in ridership when it gets “really cold,” say, -35 C and below, is normal and has happened in the past.

People choose to stay indoors. Students choose not to go to classes and some people choose to work from home during bitter cold temperatures. That’s a trend Penny has seen at other transit agencies.

“When I was with Calgary Transit, it was the same thing.”

“People who only use transit cut their shopping down, and everything else,” said Penny. “So it’s actually normally down when it’s really cold.”

The decline in ridership last week was around 30 per cent.

This week, ridership is back up to normal levels, Penny added.


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