It’s official – Uber has come to Calgary. The popular app-based taxi service, a mixture between a traditional cab and car2go-like system, will be arriving in Calgary at 2 p.m. today, the company has announced.
UberX, tags itself as a low-cost ridesharing option that connects users with on-demand transportation in minutes. The service claims to be 30 per cent cheaper than traditional taxi rides, and is currently available in more than 340 cities across 60 different countries.
“We have been looking to coming to the market for the past year and are very excited to see the level of interest as Uber launches in Calgary,” Xavier Van Chau, Uber Canada spokesman told Calgary Buzz. Uber confirmed that more than 500 Calgarians had already signed up to be driver-partners and that over the past month more than 10,000 people locally had opened up the app looking for rides.
Despite its popularity Uber has sparked controversy in some cities, including Vancouver, and has already stirred up something of a storm in Calgary ahead of its launch with the City Council revealing it harbours concerns over public safety.
“Earlier today, Uber, a private for hire vehicle company, announced that it will commence operations in Calgary.” Mayor Nenshi said in a statement. “I am disappointed that they have decided to do so without adequate insurance or regulations to protect public safety.”
The City Council confirmed that until it decides if and how to regulate Uber, the current Livery Transport Bylaw will remain in force. As a result drivers who break the existing bylaw face fines of up to $1,500 per offence.
The City advises of risks associated w/ private for hire vehicles such as @Uber_Calgary – watch live now at http://t.co/Ma1s2uXeWP
— City of Calgary (@cityofcalgary) October 15, 2015
The statement didn’t put off entrepreneur and former Dragon’s Den star Brett Wilson, however, who became the first customer to use the Calgary service on Thursday morning, tweeting:
“Hey @CityofCalgary – I took the first @Uber_Calgary ride today. If you plan to ticket me – please use my office address. #LetsGetReal”
And, with Uber offering two free rides up to $20 per journey to new users between now and midnight on October, 18, we’re sure he won’t be the last either.