Well here we are Vancouver.
It’s 2019 and basically every other major city in North America has ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft. While we… Are. Still. Waiting.
It’s not for a lack of wanting. A study released this week found that six-in-10 people in the province want the services brought in ASAP, and most Vancouverites feel the introduction isn’t happening quickly enough (we’re now looking at the summer just for applications to be accepted for services).
The timeline for implementation was also just the subject of a city motion, with one Vancouver councillor imploring the mayor to write a letter to the premier to just get on with it already (and also show Vancouver’s support).
So as we wait not so patiently for the advent of ridesharing in this province, here’s a look at some reasons why we’re excited for the services to debut in the city.
Throughout our series examining the state of the transportation industry in the province, we heard from dozens of readers who said they were left in the cold (or rain) and their ride never showed up. One notable standout was Amanda Schellenburg, whose friend gave up and slept on her couch after waiting nearly three-and-a-half hours on New Year’s Eve for a ride that never arrived.
Ever been asked to pay in cash because a taxi’s credit card machine isn’t working? It happened to our editor-in-chief, who was asked to get out of the cab mid ride when he didn’t have enough cash to cover his fare when its terminals went down. Rideshare companies use mobile apps for payment, and they are cashless. You don’t even need to bring your wallet on the trip.
The holidays — Christmas and New Year’s Eve — are notoriously bad for being able to get a taxi in the city. To put it simply, there just aren’t enough on the roads to meet customer demand. That’s not a fault of any taxi company or driver, it’s just that there are simply not enough cars to pick up all the passengers — and partiers — at any given time. With ridesharing and surge pricing, more drivers will come online as the demand for services rise. Thus, shorter times to wait to get to where you’re going, especially if you’re willing to pay a surge pricing rate, that is usually a small multiplier of the regular rates.
Although the cost of taking a taxi or rideshare in every city varies, in every US city that has rideshare it is cheaper to get a ride in a Lyft or Uber than taking a taxi. The one exception is New York City. On the West Coast of the US, the cost differences are the biggest in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The website Ride Guru has an online calculator so you can see how ride costs compare in every city.
Giving drunk people more options to get home safely when they are intoxicated will lead to less crashes. That was the findings of a 2015 study by Uber in conjunction with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. It found that in most major cities, demand for its services peaked at exactly the time bars closed their doors — the time most intoxicated people get behind the wheel. It found that arrests for driving under the influence in Seattle decreased by 10% after the introduction of rideshare.
The sentiment of this study was also echoed by a Metro Vancouver city councillor over the holidays. The volunteer “Operation Red Nose” driver believed that drunk people would be more likely to get behind the wheel if they weren’t able to get a ride home in a reasonable amount of time. Seeing taxi wait times spanning several hours on her shift, she said rideshare vehicles on BC roads would alleviate the pressure on the taxi industry and get more people home safely.
Heard of UberPOOL? You get a cheaper fare if you’re okay with sharing your ride with other passengers. Well, a pair of Philadelphia passengers had their “meet cute” while enjoying an Uber ride together — and tied the knot 18 months later. Uber even provided all their wedding transportation. So who knows — maybe the next Mr. or Mrs. Right is waiting for you, in a rideshare vehicle.
Ever tried to use the app for our major taxi company in Vancouver only to have your address not recognized, or the app straight up not work? Yeah, that’s a complaint we heard many times over our transportation series. The Yellow Cab app has a 1.3 out of 5 rating on the Apple App Store. Uber and Lyft, on the other hand, currently have 4.5 and 4.9 out of 5 star reviews.
Can we have some real talk here? Are we not just sick of hearing the same complaints about not being able to hail an Uber or Lyft when basically you could if you were anywhere else in the world? Vancouverites love bitching about the rain, and how bad/amazing the Canucks are doing. So let’s just get rideshare now and be done with it!