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EDITORIAL: Fare share

The P.E.I. government is on the right track with its plans to introduce legislation in the fall to allow ridesharing or ride-booking services on the Island.

As P.E.I.’s population continues to grow, another option for getting around is needed, not just for cities but also for rural communities.

Taxis and transit services simply aren’t cutting it anymore.

And some Islanders, including university students and anyone trying to find a timely and affordable way get around, are getting fed up and choosing to walk long distances rather than wait for a cab.

The plan to introduce the legislation was revealed recently by MLA Steven Myers, minister of transportation, energy and infrastructure, to CBC P.E.I. Myers also indicated that a local company was already interested in offering ridesharing.

P.E.I. had a brief experience with a ridesharing company, FalconX, which launched around 2016 or 2017.

Even so, ridesharing services are not new to Canada. They can be found in the country’s major cities and elsewhere in the world. Vancouver is the most recent city to receive an application from Uber.

In some cases, Uber and other ridesharing services have been met with violence by taxi drivers.

No business likes competition. But if the provincial legislation is approved and if municipalities also allow the ridesharing service, cab companies have no choice but to adapt.

Ridesharing services operate on a different business model and can offer lower fares than taxi drivers, so competing is more difficult.

But rather than resisting change, cab companies can look at this as an opportunity to reflect on their practices and improve their services. Anything is possible.

Cab companies have already indicated they are gearing up to fight the changes, which they say will result in loss of business and loss of jobs.

As this goes through the approval process, especially at the municipal level, expect demonstrations and vocal opposition during public meetings.

Of course, ridesharing, if approved, may not pan out. People understand how taxi services work and can recall times, especially during a snow storm, when a taxi got them to work more than once. Using an app to order a ride and then sharing your ride with others is a foreign concept for some people.

Regardless, customers deserve the option and choice of which service they use — ridesharing or taxi.

What do consumers want? They want convenience, reliability and affordability. And they don’t want to wait for service.

We wouldn’t be having this discussion if cab companies were providing this level of service.

These are the hallmarks of our free-market economic system. And taxi companies have operated far too long under a monopoly.

The time has come for change and to give Islanders more choices, and businesses some healthy competition.

Cab companies involved in the customer service industry have to realize that customers are the priority, not their self-preservation.

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