Canadian town partners with Uber in place of bus service

Published: April 7, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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One Canadian town is adopting Uber in a unique way, contrasting how other municipalities have tried to combat the company’s expansion. The town of Innisfil is turning to the ride-sharing giant to bring an on-demand transit service to residents, due to a lack of public transport infrastructure.

The first of its kind partnership has been announced by the Innisfil council. The town’s 36,000 residents will receive Uber with discounted fares for trips to specific destinations in the town. A collaboration was completed with the ride-share firm last month, and Mayor Gord Wauchope says the agreement is both innovative and necessary expansion:

“Council was really being pressured to bring transit to the town of Innisfil,” Wauchope said.

“You can’t have taxpayers pay for a transit system which they cannot use. And this was a transit system that people can get from anywhere in the town of Innisfil, and use it for a reasonable price.”

The decision to adopt Uber comes after the town conducted a transit feasibility study in 2015. The report found that a fixed-route bus service in the city would be too costly. Indeed, to operate one bus for a year, it would cost Innisfil $270,000. As a result, the council was forced to abandon any plans for a limited bus service.

Uber’s participation will be more affordable and will cost $100,000 this year and $125,000 in 2018. The service will get underway May 1.

Under the agreement, residents in the town will pay a base fee for trips to key locations. Beyond the base price, the city will cover any extra charges.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Innisfil for Canada’s first partnership of this kind and look forward to continued dialogue with other jurisdictions and transit authorities across Canada to explore similar partnerships,” said Susie Heath, a spokesperson for Uber Canada.

“Realizing these trends are already happening, more and more transit authorities and cities are entering into formal agreements with ride-sharing companies to help connect people to public transit,” Heath said.