Manitoba

Two rides and a missing cowboy: CBC tries out new ride-hailing apps

One day after ride-hailing apps became available in Winnipeg, three CBC Manitoba employees tested some out. Two rides were successful and one failed to show up.

TappCar and Cowboy Taxi began picking up customers Friday

CBC employees test out new ride-hailing apps available in Winnipeg on March 2, 2018. (CBC)

One day after ride-hailing apps became available in Winnipeg, three CBC Manitoba employees tested some out. Two rides were successful and one failed to show up.

TappCar and Cowboy Taxi started picking up riders on Friday. They are competing against conventional taxi services, like Duffy's and Unicity, which also offer GPS-guided smartphone apps.
The taxi ordered through the Unicity app was the first of the three to arrive, and get to the destination. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

Toronto's InstaRyde said it is recruiting drivers in Winnipeg but not yet available to customers. Winnipeg-registered U2GO is also currently unavailable. 

At around 10 a.m. Friday producer Rignam Wangkhang, Up to Speed host Ismaila Alfa and reporter Teghan Beaudette each installed different apps on their phones and requested taxis.

Their trips started at the restaurant Elements on Portage Avenue and ended at the McNally Robinson at Grant Park Mall.

Unicity Taxi:

  • Duration: 19 minutes door-to-door
  • Cost: $10.60

TappCar:

  • Duration: 30 minutes door-to-door
  • Cost: $7.10

Cowboy Taxi:

  • No driver available

Wangkhang used the Unicity Taxi app. It took him 19 minutes to go from ordering a conventional taxi to arriving at his destination. The ride cost $10.60 without a tip.

Alfa's ride took 30 minutes using the ride-hailing service TappCar and cost $7.10 without a tip.
Teghan Beaudette's ride with Cowboy Taxi was not successful Friday because the company did not have any available drivers. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

Beaudette's ride never came — Cowboy Taxi notified her it did not have any drivers to pick her up. The company said more drivers should be available by Friday evening.

"Even though I wasn't able to get a ride this morning I'm going to keep the app and I will probably use it as my go-to because it has the option for a female driver," she said.

Cowboy Taxi offers a "girl power" option where riders, of any gender, can request a female driver.

Owner Mo Benini said drivers were not available Friday morning because Cowboy Taxi is still processing driver applications. Only about 10 drivers are on staff so far and most have day jobs that don't allow them to pick up riders during business hours. 

"Until we get more drivers signed up it's going to be very hit and miss," Benini said Friday afternoon.

The City of Winnipeg launched its mandatory pre-payment pilot project Monday. It will run for nine months. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

The company is reviewing more than 150 applications and hopes to have the full service available in Winnipeg by March 9, he said. 

Overall, Alfa and Wangkhang had somewhat different experiences in their taxis.

Wangkhang's conventional taxi driver declined to be interviewed for the story. He said the driver arrived on time and got him where he needed to be but said the interaction was "awkward."

Alfa said his TappCar driver, Michella Wall, went out of the way to be friendly and that the experience was "one of the best" taxi rides he's had in Winnipeg.

Wall told Alfa she decided to try working for a ride-hailing app after having her own positive experience as a Uber customer in Toronto.

"I had some free time during my week days and I figured why not make a little extra cash," she said.

Wall, who runs a daycare for school-aged children, has signed up for three of the new ride-hailing apps in Winnipeg: TappCar, InstaRyde and Cowboy Taxi. Her plan is to see which one she likes working for the most.
Alfa said his TappCar driver was very friendly. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

U.S.-based Uber and Lyft have expressed interest in the Winnipeg market, but want Manitoba Public Insurance to change its coverage in two ways.

They object to MPI's requirement that drivers purchase top-ups to their personal motor-vehicle insurance based on when those drivers expect to be on the road. Uber and Lyft say this limits the flexibility of their drivers. The U.S. ride-hailing companies also would like to purchase the top-up insurance on behalf of their drivers. 

TappCar has gotten around this by reimbursing drivers for a portion of their personal insurance top-ups. 

One day after ride-hailing apps became available in Winnipeg, three CBC Manitoba employees tested some out. Two rides were successful and one failed to show up. 4:07

With files from Bartley Kives, Ismaila Alfa, Teghan Beaudette and Rignam Wangkhan