Calgary taxi companies join national PR battle as Uber extends reach

Two Calgary taxi companies are banding together with several others in six Canadian cities to wage a public opinion war over ride-sharing services like Uber.

'Taxi Truths' website promotes safety of regulated taxi industry compared with new services like Uber

The app Uber has been trying to break into the Calgary market, but the city and other local cab companies have some concerns with the taxi service provider. (Brian Burnett/CBC)

Two Calgary taxi companies are banding together with several others in six Canadian cities to wage a public opinion war over ride-sharing services like Uber.

Associated Cab and Checker Yellow Cabs are part of the Canadian Taxicab Companies group, which has started a website called Taxi Truths.

Smartphone app Uber lets taxi users hail cabs from their phones. (Getty Images/Flickr RF)

The group says its goal is to educate Canadians about the differences between regulated taxi companies and ride-sharing services like U.S.-based Uber, which has begun expanding to Canadian cities including Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto.

Kurt Enders, president of Checker Yellow Cabs, said the campaign is not specifically aimed at Uber.

“It’s aimed at all unregulated operators that want to enter the marketplace,” he said.

UberX uses a smartphone app to connect passengers with drivers in privately owned vehicles. In other cities where the service has launched, Uber has not sought taxi licences for drivers.

“If they want to come in, we've been operating under a regulated industry. I guess the question is … why won't they come in and follow the same rules and regulations that we currently follow today?” Enders said.

Campaign 'desperate,' says Uber

Theinsurance industry has also raised concerns about ride-sharing companies having adequate insurance to protect drivers and the public in the event of a collision.

Last week Vancouver’s taxi industry filed a lawsuit against Uber and is seeking an injunction to prevent it from starting up in that city. 

But an Uber spokesperson says the company is not concerned.

"We don't expect a desperate PR campaign to change the fact that in cities around the world, including here in Canada, consumers are making it known that they want Uber," said Lauren Altmin in an email.

"For decades, the Canadian taxi industry cared nothing about working to serve residents and visitors. Rather than make an effort to listen and meet consumer expectations of quality, safety and reliability, they’re undertaking a smear campaign to protect their cartel.

"We welcome a substantive discussion on our safety initiatives, but the facts won't change: Uber offers the safest ride on the road."

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