Uber has plenty of enemies in Canada, taxi unions and governments among them. However, the company that offers a smartphone app that lets users select a nearby car and driver to taxi them is winning plenty of friend too. While the legality of Uber and its UberX service has been challenged, consumers and those wanting to work for the company seem unfazed.
Take Hamilton based Ejaz Butt, a man who perhaps represents more than anything else that Uber is here to stay and the public is welcoming it. That will not make happy reading to some governments, although even they are warning to the Uber economy boost. It will certainly not make happy reading for taxi drivers and their representatives, especially as Mr. Butt used to be one of them.
Mr. Butt has actually led a taxi union in the past, but now the Hamilton resident is working for Uber, taking odd jobs with the company. He is a retired taxi driver who now puts in some hours in for UberX simply because he wants to and the 64-year old says that Uber cuts many of the problems that the normal taxi sector brings, offering a simpler and safer experience for driver and consumer alike.
"What I wanted to have for the driver when I was driving for the taxi company, I think you get all those things with Uber," he said.
"I just wanted to go through the process to see why they are getting so successful, why everyone is so against them," he said. "Unless I get into it, I will not be able to give my comment or comparison between the two."
He insists that the company is not illegal, although the City of Hamilton seems to disagree as it has been issuing fines to those caught operating for Uber. However, Toronto has recently voted to regulate the service and it is widely believed that the economical benefits of UberX and regulating it will mean most Canadian cities will follow, including Hamilton.
Taking just 15 minutes to train to be an Uber driver, Butt says it is easier than the taxi method, which often leaves drivers down hundreds of dollars before they start making money. He also added that there are no middle men, fees and cuts are dealt with before hand, there is no change of money so drivers always get paid, and the app does not seem to have favorites.
"The driver drives the car stress-free, no stress at all, because he does not have any liability on his head, paying the lease, paying the dispatch fee, worrying about the customer not paying the fare, not worried about who you're picking up," he said.
"The other thing is you are treated really good by the customer," he said. "This is one thing that I found – you are treated really well."
Mr. Butt also believes that Uber proves to be safer than a taxi because the driver is operating their own vehicle are less likely to drive it recklessly. The 64-year old also took out extra personal commercial auto insurance for his vehicle to avoid the problem that has seen numerous UberX drivers operating without sufficient coverage.