Innisfil, Ontario is the first Canadian municipality to launch an Uber partnership for public transit – and it’s not a bad idea.
Small towns are feeling pressure to provide public transit to growing populations, but operation and infrastructure costs could have councillors seeing red.
Enter Uber, a ride-hailing service through a smartphone app.
Residents would be able to book a trip at any time and go anywhere, unlike bus schedules and fixed routes.
In Innisfil, rates range from $3 to $39 for major destinations, like the recreation complex and Barrie South GO. Most sit around $3 to $5.
Uber has had its fair share of controversies since its launch, mostly raised by taxi companies. But as times change, the way governments offer services should too.
Innisfil officials said they would also be partnering with local taxi companies for accessible rides to offer “reliable and affordable on-demand transit service to all residents of Innisfil.”
Small towns (Innisfil’s population is 39,000) that don’t have public transportation should seriously consider this type of partnership.
It keeps costs low for both residents and municipalities, while covering the entire town with reliable service. Try as some people might to forget or ignore it, Uber is here and changing the way people get from point A to point B.
Innisfil’s mayor is right: whatever service it provides is better than none at all.
Public transportation seems to be something rural municipalities are constantly struggling to figure out.
With smaller populations it’s difficult to justify the added costs of buses and other public transportation when only a small portion of the population may use it.
In Wellington County there’s the added complication that a good portion of the population is rural and the added cost to take public transit out of urban centres would undoubtedly be huge.
In order to provide public transportation without creating a network of buses, Innisfil is conducting a six-month trial to make Uber available to meet citizens’ public transportation needs.
So, the company that hires drivers with their own cars to pick up fares based on a smartphone booking app is going to act as the municipality’s public transportation service? While users will have to pay a fee, a portion will also be covered by the municipality.
It sounds like a good idea, but what about local taxi companies that are already filling the same need for residents?
Why wouldn’t the municipality try to work with existing services instead of bringing in a shiny new option that only people with a smartphone and credit card can access? Yes, public transportation is important, but it’s equally essential to keep business local and work with reliable services that are accessible by everyone.
No thanks, Uber.