Uber won't compete with P.E.I. taxis any time soon

Cody MacKay
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Joe Arsenault has driven taxis for more than 40 years and has never seen anything as impactful on the cab industry as Uber.

It’s simple: download the app, request a driver at your location, and you’ll be picked up in moments.

If you’re on P.E.I., though, be prepared to wait a while.

The Uber takeover continues across Canada as the ride-sharing app fights to become the replacement for taxi services in Halifax, Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Edmonton.

The company has met strong opposition from taxi drivers — particularly in Toronto in the form of protests and attacks — and has been taken off the roads in Calgary and Vancouver.

Joe Arsenault, a taxi driver with Courtesy Cab in Summerside, has been in the business since 1971 and like some other cabbies on P.E.I., he is paying close attention to the conflict in Toronto.

“Uber should not be able to operate with drivers that aren’t licensed or have commercial insurance,” said Arsenault.

He has two taxi licences, one he sold four years ago for roughly $240,000, and one that isn’t even worth half of that.

That’s because since Uber’s launch people can get the same service faster and sometimes for less money.

This is part of the reason why taxi drivers in Toronto are taking to the streets.

Arsenault admits that protests in Toronto are generating more sympathy for Uber, but are necessary in opening up discussion about Uber’s controversial insurance.

“We are regulated and we have rules to follow,” Arsenault says. ”They are carrying people without commercial insurance.”

Arsenault has simple advice for customers. “Don’t get in an Uber.”

Uber made an attempt at expanding into Eastern Canada with one chapter in Halifax, but that flopped due to a lack of personnel and failure to meet the city’s demands requiring drivers to have taxi licences.

In an email statement, Jean-Christophe de Le Rue, spokesman for Uber Canada, says the rest of the East Coast will remain on the backbench for Uber’s expansion plans.

“While we don’t have specific launch plans for P.E.I., N.B. and Newfoundland at the moment,” he says, “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 across the country.”

Uber Canada has focused its integration in highly populated cities, and without a large population to support it, it’s unlikely P.E.I. will see Uber arriving anytime soon.

Geographic location: Toronto, Eastern Canada, Halifax Quebec City Montreal Ottawa Edmonton Calgary Vancouver Summerside East Coast Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Do Your Research
    October 14, 2016 - 12:01

    Actually Uber does request that all their drivers have a form of commercial research. It is difficult for them to keep on top of that however it is stated as a requirement. Taxis may not like it, but these Uber drivers are accepting a significantly lower wage, and providing a new and high tech solution to the old industry of taxi. If you can not provide a better, more efficient, and cheaper way of transportation, than Uber will take over everywhere, just like most other major cities in Canada and the US. A new revolutionized idea can always push out the old. Look at Netflix for example... do you see many video stores left in Charlottetown?

  • Dan
    December 18, 2015 - 13:36

    Uber=Napster. You can't fight progress. You're either on the bus, or off the bus.

  • Truth Seeker
    Truth Seeker
    December 17, 2015 - 16:14

    It's the same old thing Islanders have been dealing with for decades. Having to deal with a monopoly. Premium prices for subpar services. Uber is a simple idea and we could just set up a similar system if we chose. One FB group could is all we'd need. Take warning cab stand operators. Adapt or be gone.

  • Quiet Observer
    December 17, 2015 - 12:02

    Uber is very appealing when one looks at the antiquated zone method of charging fares in Charlottetown. Step into the 21st century and install meters in cabs. Oh, I forgot, City Hall is afraid of cab companies.

    • You should stay quiet
      December 17, 2015 - 13:42

      What are you talking about?? I've taken cabs all over the world and Charlottetown with their zone system is way cheaper!!! $6.75-8.75 will get you almost anywhere in the city!

    • another observer
      March 06, 2016 - 20:43

      @ You should stay quiet Obviously Quiet Observer touched a nerve with you. Own a taxi company or drive for one, by any chance? Taxis are enabled by municipalities in PEI. There are only 2 real municipalities regulating them at this point (Charlottetown and Summerside). Sure, there are a handful of cabs in Souris, Montague, Cornwall and Stratford but it's the 2 cities that are the main game. And the zone based system with such a small geography is absolutely stupid and a rip-off for taxi consumers. I can walk 4 blocks in Charlottetown in 5 minutes. Or I can take a cab ride that lasts about 45 seconds to 1 minute and it costs over $5.00. That's stupid. And that's a municipality that's in bed with the cab drivers and taxi company owners. There should be a single taxi law across PEI (not at the municipal level) and it should mandate meter based billing based on the amount of time that you're in the cab. This would be far far far cheaper within the tight geographies of our 2 cities. And it would be fairer for consumers traveling to areas out in the country. And it would FORCE cabs to respond to a call out in the country. Right now, they're only forced to go within the municipality that regulates them.

  • Dated
    December 17, 2015 - 06:21

    "Don't get in an Uber" - Spoken by someone who is trying to protect their dated monopolistic business model. I use Uber every time i'm in a City that has it. Brand new cars are far better than the puke filled, filthy, run down cabs in PEI. Don't want people to take an Uber? Adapt your business model accordingly to offer better customer service.

  • Walker
    December 17, 2015 - 06:14

    Good idea to keep Uber away from PEI. We wouldn't want to make it any easier for people to get around on our island. With Uber or a similar service it's possible we could see a drop in impared drivers as well as a drop in unlicensed/uninsured/unsafe vehicles on these roads. Not all change is bad

    • Bill Nye
      December 17, 2015 - 22:54

      Uber will be here eventually so Taxi companies will have to adapt or go out of business. That is a really good point about the potential drop in impaired drivers if access to these services were more convenient and affordable. Makes sense to me.