Kitchener-Waterloo

Waterloo Taxi launching new app to compete with Uber

Waterloo Taxi is set to launch its new ride hailing app in the next couple of weeks, in answer to Uber’s surprise arrival in the Region last month.
"We have to up our game," said Waterloo Taxi president Peter Neufeld. (Jane van Koeverden/CBC News)

Waterloo Taxi is set to launch its new ride hailing app in the next couple of weeks, in answer to Uber's surprise arrival in the Region last month.

"We have to up our game," said Peter Neufeld, president of Waterloo Taxi.

"They showed us maybe we were being a little lax and complacent...I'll tip my hat to Uber for that. They've opened our eyes. We can't be complacent we have to continue to strive to be better, improve our services and stay abreast of the latest technology."

The new app will be available to download for free on iPhone and Android phones soon, with plans to develop an app for BlackBerry as well.

Passengers will be able to use the app to request a cab, pay using a credit card or through PayPal, and monitor a map to see the cab approach their location in real time.

'Students love apps'

Neufeld says Waterloo Taxi also operates an app through a company called Gata Hub, which provides ride hailing service to different taxi operations in North America. This new app is the first developed for and owned by Waterloo Taxi.

With 1,075 local users, Neufeld said he wouldn't be immediate cutting ties with Gata Hub. But he said the new app will improve convenience for customers.

"We're going to push it hard onto universities. Students love apps," said Neufeld.

"It just makes it so much easier for them to order a taxi. Especially if you're a foreign student coming from a different country, your English might not be all that good. I know we've had issues in the past where dispatchers have gotten the wrong address because they misunderstood what the customer was saying."

Uber Canada spokeswoman Susie Heath said the company welcomes any innovation in transportation.

"We are pleased to see innovation coming from any sector of the transportation space - as more transportation alternatives become available, consumers and communities benefit as a whole. Uber is proud to be a part of helping to revolutionize the way people connect with their cities and creating economic opportunity for transportation providers around the world," said Heath in an email to CBC News.

Uber drivers are currently operating illegally according to the Region's current taxi bylaws.  If caught, drivers could face hundreds of dollars in fines. The Region is currently developing new regulations, which, if all goes to plan, will take effect next January.

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