Manitoba

Ride-hailing service TappCar confident of success under MPI's rules

A small ride-hailing company about to launch its service in Winnipeg says they have no problem operating under provincial insurance rules.

Edmonton-based startup will launch service in Winnipeg on March 2

Pascal Ryffel, spokesperson for TappCar, says the company can operate successfully with current provincial insurance rules. (CBC)

A small ride-hailing company about to launch its service in Winnipeg says it has no problem operating under provincial insurance rules.

Edmonton-based TappCar officially announced on Tuesday their intention to begin operating in the city on March 2. 

"As a small company, perhaps we're a bit more willing to be flexible," said Pascal Ryffel, spokesman for TappCar. "Some of these big players, they come into markets — especially medium to smaller markets —  and sort of demand that rules be changed to fit with their business plans."

Leading ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft have both say they will not operate under Manitoba Public Insurance's rules for vehicles for hire, which include flexible time bands that allow drivers to choose when they would like to work. Uber and Lyft want a blanket policy for all drivers.

Uber said Tuesday they are willing to come to Winnipeg when MPI changes its insurance policy.

"Uber continues to believe a blanket policy designed to cover all drivers during ride-share activity is the best insurance model for a number of reasons, including that it facilitates compliance for ride-share drivers," said Susie Heath, spokesperson for Uber.

Ryffel doesn't see a problem with the current setup.

"We've been very happy so far with the way things have been rolled out, and I think we can work with the framework the way it exists right now," Ryffel said. "We're willing to give it a go and we're fairly confident that we'll succeed."

A spokesperson for MPI says the insurer will work with TappCar and all ride-hailing companies to make sure they understand and comply with provincial rules.

TappCar submitted their application to launch on March 2 to the city Tuesday, Ryffel says, one day before Wednesday's deadline.

Mayor Brian Bowman calls the announcement of TappCar 'great' and says he hopes more ride-hailing services come to Winnipeg. (CBC)

Mayor Brian Bowman called the announcement "great news."

"I hope that it's the beginning of even more choice in the marketplace … I'm going to do whatever I can to facilitate that. Any company is going to have to make the decision whether to enter the marketplace."

TappCar launched in Edmonton in 2015. They spotted the opportunity to move into Winnipeg when others balked, Ryffel says.

I hope that it's the beginning of even more choice in the marketplace.- Mayor Brian Bowman

"I think there's a demand by a lot of customers who worry a little bit about the antics of companies like Uber to see a little bit more of an ethical approach to ride-sharing," he said.

TappCar currently employs about 250 people in Edmonton and, in an unusual move, invited Teamsters to unionize their drivers. Its drivers also enjoy health benefits and a pension plan, and drivers in Manitoba will ge the same deal, Ryffel says.

"We believe at the end of the day, if you have happy drivers, you have happy customers."

TappCar will launch its service in Winnipeg in March. (Samuel Rancourt/CBC)

Passengers who have used Uber or Lyft in other markets will notice the similarities with the TappCar app, Ryffel says, but he stresses there are differences..

"Main differences are … we are Canadian-owned. We put a lot of emphasis on treating our drivers well, making sure they are well-paid … in the Edmonton market we are unionized and there are negotiations here as well in Manitoba.

"We don't have surge pricing as part of TappCar … so [customers] don't have to worry that you'll get stuck with a $1,000 bill on New Year's Eve or something like that. There may be the occasional surcharge of $2 or $3 if it's very busy, but other than that, there's no surge pricing."

Ryffel couldn't say how many drivers will be hired in Winnipeg, but noted about 65 people replied to an ad posted a few days ago.

Drivers hired in Winnipeg will have different requirements than drivers hired in Alberta, including a lower minimum hire age of 18 instead of 25. They will also not be immediately required to put two-way cameras in their vehicles, although Ryffel says they hope to make this a requirement eventually.

Ryffel couldn't immediately say whether any of its drivers or passengers had been assaulted in TappCar vehicles.

Ride-hailing service TappCar says it's coming to Winnipeg in March

5 years ago
Duration 1:42
A small ride-hailing company about to launch its service in Winnipeg says it has no problem operating under provincial insurance rules. Edmonton-based TappCar officially announced their intention to begin operating in the city on March 2.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elisha Dacey

Journalist

Elisha Dacey was a journalist with CBC Manitoba. She is the former managing editor of Metro Winnipeg and her work has been seen in newspapers from coast to coast.

With files from Bartley Kives

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