The service is being made available in Regina following the passing of new regulation by the Saskatchewan government, to allow services like Lyft and Uber to operate in the province. In February, Uber announced the launch of UberX in Saskatoon, marking the first service of its kind available in Saskatchewan.
Uber has technically been operating in Regina since August 2018. However only its food delivery service Uber Eats was available due to the provincial regulations restricting ridesharing.
The company has also announced it is piloting Bike Lane Alerts in Toronto, a new feature that Uber hopes will encourage safe practices and increase road safety. The new feature notifies riders through a push notification that their upcoming drop-off is near a bike lane or shared road, reminding them to look out for people on bikes and scooters. In addition to Toronto, its also piloting the app feature in San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C.
“We are glad to see Uber leveraging technology to increase awareness [of] bike lanes and people on bikes,” said Jamie Stuckless, executive director of Share the Road Cycling Coalition. While there is always more work to do, this is an important step in the right direction and we look forward to our continued work together to increase safety on roads across Toronto.”
According to Uber, riders and drivers across Canada will also receive education on the Dutch Reach, a practice widely encouraged in the Netherlands that entails a car driver reaching with their right hand to open the door, which instinctively prompts them to look over their shoulder for oncoming traffic. Uber said the education materials were developed in collaboration with safety experts and bike organizations that aim to help to reduce the risk of dooring someone riding a bike or scooter when exiting a vehicle.
Along with Bike Lane Alerts and Dutch Reach education resources, Uber also announced a new deactivation policy for riders with a consistently low rating, speed limit alerts, and an increased two-year driving history requirement for Uber drivers. The company also instated its Ride Check feature, which uses sensors within the phone to detect sudden or unusual stops, to then reach out to riders and drivers.
Uber launched in Regina on Wednesday and entered its second market in Saskatchewan, three months after it first launched in Saskatoon.
“It’ll show you your car that you’re matched with, the driver, their picture, their first name, their star rating out of five stars and you’ll be able to watch that vehicle come to pick you up,” said Michael van Hemmen, head of Uber in Western Canada.
When you hail a ride, Uber shows you a map of where the vehicle is located on its way to pick you up. It also displays the final cost of the trip before you get into the vehicle. No cash is exchanged and payment is all done through the app.
“The driver drives you where you’re going. All the time you’re tracked through GPS and when you get to your destination you simply exit the car and payment is tracked automatically and you rate each other out of five stars,” said van Hemmen.
Uber wouldn’t reveal how many drivers signed up in Regina by launch day but van Hemmen was pleased with the level of interest.
“We’ve seen more interest from drivers in Regina at this stage than we did in Saskatoon,” said van Hemmen.
It takes a matter of days to become an Uber driver. They need to provide Uber with documentation proving their identity and that they meet proper driver’s licence regulations.
From there, they go through driver screening which includes a criminal record check and driver’s abstract check. Before accepting any rides, the driver much also have their vehicle inspected for safety.
Van Hemmen was behind the wheel for the first Uber ride in Regina, bringing delegates from the provincial government, MADD Canada and Regina Chamber of Commerce to the launch news conference in front of city hall.
A waiting Mayor Michael Fougere was there to welcome them and said as a growing city with an increasing population, Regina deserves to have a service like Uber.
“We’ve been waiting for this day for a long, long time and I know that council and all Regina residents are really, really pleased to finally have rideshare here, have Uber here, to have choice in the marketplace, to have competition in the marketplace, to serve our residents better,” said Fougere.
Fougere added ridesharing is another tool in the toolbox to provide safe rides home and help reduce impaired driving in Regina.
Ridesharing fares are subject to surge pricing where costs can change depending on multiple factors including demand. Shortly after the launch, an Uber ride from the University of Regina to Mosaic Stadium cost just under $14. A ride from the RCMP Heritage Centre to the new Costco on the eastern outskirts of the city cost just under $23.