Ride-hailing service TappCar seeks drivers in Winnipeg

A ride-hailing service from Alberta appears to be hiring drivers for the Winnipeg market in an effort to launch March 1.

Edmonton-based startup has app similar to Uber, Lyft

Edmonton-based TappCar appears to be coming to Winnipeg. (CBC)

A ride-hailing service from Alberta appears to be hiring drivers for the Winnipeg market in an effort to launch March 1.

TappCar, an Edmonton-based startup that launched in 2016 and quickly expanded to Calgary, appears to have placed ads for drivers in Winnipeg on job-searching site Indeed on Saturday.

"We are a Canadian P2P ridesharing company and TappCar will legally operate in Winnipeg starting March 1, 2018," the ad says. The ads claim drivers can earn up to $5,000 a month.

An ad posted online seeking drivers for TappCar in Winnipeg. (Indeed.com)

TappCar sent a notice to media on Tuesday morning about a "major announcement" happening at 11:30 a.m.

TappCar's rules for hiring drivers in Winnipeg seem to be less strict than those in Calgary or Edmonton. The requirements laid out in its ad include being 18 or older with a valid licence, a car newer than 10 years old, provision of a driver's abstract within 90 days of hire and a clean criminal record and vulnerable sector check.

Drivers who apply in Alberta must be 25, have a relatively clean driving record, a clean criminal record check, a car newer than five years old and the vehicle must get a yearly safety inspection.

Phone calls and emails to the company Sunday and Monday were not returned. But in 2016, spokesperson Pascal Ryffel told CBC that Albertans had been waiting for a ride-hailing service after Uber ceased operating due to new regulations brought in by the province.

"[They] have been asking for a service that combines state-of-the-art technology and high customer service standards, and does so without cutting corners on insurance and other safety measures.

"We're also driver-focused. All of our drivers have pensions and health-care benefits, which is quite different from the taxi brokers as well."

On its website, TappCar describes itself as a taxi and ride-sharing hybrid that doesn't skimp on safety. Like Uber and Lyft, the company has an app for hailing cars that can be used to track a vehicle and pay for the ride.

"Vehicles are guaranteed to be of comfortable size and quality. Drivers are properly insured and professionally licensed, and each vehicle has a two-way camera installed, ensuring every ride is safe."

Uber and Lyft

Both Uber and Lyft have said they will not operate in Winnipeg, objecting to MPI's plan for insuring ride-hailing drivers.

A submission made to the Manitoba Public Utilities Board on Jan. 4 by Uber said Manitoba Public Insurance's proposed insurance plan for drivers won't work for the company's business model.

"While Uber appreciates the effort that MPI has devoted to the development of its proposed ridesharing insurance product, Uber is respectfully of the view that the structure of the insurance product, including its rate bands, does not meet the insurance needs of rideshare drivers using the Uber app," the company said in a submission made to the Manitoba Public Utilities Board on Jan. 4.

Lyft echoed Uber's concerns.

MPI's insurance plan would see ride-hailing drivers choose different time "bands" of coverage depending on when and how frequently they work.

The City of Winnipeg and the province of Manitoba have already passed legislation that would allow ride-hailing services to enter the Winnipeg market on March 1.

Duffy's and Unicity

Local taxi companies, including Duffy's and Unicity, have been highly vocal in their opposition to ride-hailing services, arguing it would decimate taxi owners' livelihoods. They launched a lawsuit in December, seeking an injunction to stop ride-hailing services in Manitoba, calling the new rules discriminatory. 

In a statement of claim filed with the Court of Queen's Bench in December, the owners of Duffy's Taxi and Unicity Taxi allege the law discriminates against them, citing the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"As a result of the particular market conditions and nature of the taxi industry in the City of Winnipeg, the current holders of taxi business licences are overwhelmingly male, immigrants to Canada, and of South Asian ethnicity and national origin," says the statement of claim. 

The province passed Bill 30, the Local Vehicles for Hire Act, last year. It dissolved the Manitoba Taxicab Board, transferring responsibility for regulation to local municipalities.

The Manitoba Taxicab Board's licences will be cancelled on March 1. Those licences can sell for as much as $430,000, according to a provincial report prepared by MNP LLP last year.

The City of Winnipeg plans to honour those licences come March 1, and will hold a lottery for 60 more on Feb. 23.

With files from Bartley Kives and Laura Glowacki