Kitchener's United Taxi first in Ontario to offer in-cab Wi-Fi

Kitchener-based United Taxi hopes its investment in in-cab Wi-Fi will pay off as competition for customers heats up among local companies and ride-hailing apps like Uber.

United Taxi is second company in Canada, behind Vancouver's Yellow Cab

United Taxi says it recently spent more than $350,000 upgrading its payment and dispatch system. At the same time, it added free Wi-Fi to its fleet. (Jackie Sharkey/CBC)

Kitchener-based United Taxi is the first cab company in Ontario to offer free Wi-Fi in its vehicles, a move it hopes will set the company apart in an increasingly-competitive market. 

United Taxi spokesman Ajmer Mandur estimates an average cab ride in Waterloo Region is only 10 to 15 minutes long, but free Wi-Fi will still appeal to the region's relatively young, high-tech demographic – as well as those traveling out of town on business. 

"We have a lot of riders who take long rides to (the) Toronto airport and they're mainly business people and they want to stay connected," said Mandur, secretary-treasurer with the board that governs United Taxi.

$350K for new dispatch, payment, Wi-Fi system

Mandur said the company spent more than $350,000 to overhaul its payment and dispatch system, and at the same time, installed password-protected Wi-Fi in its cabs. 

"We have always tried to stay on top of everything, so at this point the need for the future, or the need for the current riders we have, they want to stay connected. And I think it will give the edge (over) our competition, not only to our local competition, but also to the outside competition that we're continuously getting," Mandur said.

That outside competition is, of course, ride-hailing app Uber, which launched its service in Waterloo Region in July, 2015.

As in many other cities around the world, local taxi companies resisted Uber's arrival and have demanded municipal governments step in to regulate the company. 

While initially the Region of Waterloo indicated it would be the first municipality in the country to regulate ride-sharing through a local bylaw, it later backed away from the plan, saying instead it would wait for the province to take the lead.  

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.