Edmonton taxi company joins national anti-Uber campaign

The campaign warning the public against using 'unregulated car-for-hire companies' is supported by cab companies in Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.
Phil Strong, president of Greater Edmonton taxi service, believes the city monitors the taxi industry more closely than it does Uber drivers. (CBC )

The Edmonton Taxi Service Group is one of seven Canadian taxi companies that has launched a campaign against Uber this week.

The campaign warning the public against using “unregulated car-for-hire companies" is supported by companies in Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.

Phil Strong, president of Yellow Cab, one of the four companies run by the Edmonton Taxi Service Group, says the campaign is about educating the public about the dangers of unregulated taxi services.

“All transportation in Canada is regulated, be it planes, trains, buses, trucks, whatever,” Strong said.

“And if they come into the market unregulated, it’s not good for the customers, for safety issues, for follow-up on complaints, for insurance purposes — they’re just not wanting to play by the rules. And you can’t have that.”

City of Edmonton officials have met with Uber and are interested in further talks, as long as the company plans to use drivers who have city taxi licences. Strong says he wouldn’t have an issue if Uber followed that route.

However, in the United States, Uber also runs the so-called UberX service, where customers can summon drivers who register with the company by using a smartphone app.

Strong and the other Canadian taxi companies contend the service is unsafe. But Uber spokeswoman Lauren Altmin says her company has better insurance and driver background checks.

She dismissed the taxi company campaign as a “desperate” public relations move.

“For decades, the Canadian taxi industry cared nothing about working to serve residents and visitors,” she said in a statement.

“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.”

Strong dismissed the suggestion that people have complained about long waits for taxis.

“People’s perceptions aren’t always correct,” he said.

“We have very few customer complaints about our fleets...considering the amount of people we transport. We’ll have transported over three million people this year.”

Although Uber was registering drivers in Edmonton last week, the company has not said when it plans to start up operations. 


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