Business owner steps on the gas for new ride-sharing app in Fredericton
The Easy Services app is just like Uber, but designed for residents living in smaller cities like Fredericton
A Fredericton entrepreneur is bringing an Uber-like service to New Brunswick's capital city.
Easy Services is a ride-share app that was launched this week.
"Uber is the mother of the invention," said Tony Elzayat, founder of the app. "And we just kind of cloned them and we tailored our technology to our local environment."
He came up with the idea to connect drivers with passengers after a push from local residents to bring an Uber service to Fredericton.
Wait times, cleanliness and pricing of taxi rides were some of the concerns of Fredericton residents who took part in a May survey released by the city.
There have also been concerns about residents being denied a ride home depending on where they live.
Elzayat started working on the app a year ago. The goal is to make it easier for people in the region to get from one place to other.
"You can't do anything anymore because you're always worried about how you're going to get home. … Enough is enough."
How it works
If you've ever used an Uber, the Easy Services app uses the same concept.
Residents can request a ride from a nearby driver, who accepts the request. The app then displays an estimated time of arrival at the pickup location.
The app charges roughly 80 cents per kilometre, instead of by zones, which traditional taxi companies use.
Since this week's "soft launch", the app has already had 1,500 downloads. But it won't officially be ready until early next year.
Right now the service has only served a few customers. Elzayat said this is because his fleet isn't fully ready.
No ride-sharing bylaw
Here's where it gets complicated.
Ride-sharing is not permitted under the province's Motor Vehicle Act.
And this week Coun. Kevin Darrah, chair of Fredericton's transportation committee, said a ride-sharing business can't move ahead unless a bylaw is implemented.
We are as fast as the government can move.- Tony Elzayat, Easy Services app
But in early spring, the province met with the city about a ride-sharing bylaw, which is expected to come into being at some point.
"They just have a lot on their plate right now," said Darrah.
Shawn Berry, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety said in an email ride-sharing legislation "is one of several ideas brought forward to the Department of Public Safety which staff are working on."
"We will have more to say on this in the months ahead," said Berry..
Meanwhile, Wayne Knorr, a spokesperson for the City of Fredericton, says it won't do anything about the new app service unless a complaint has been filed against it.
At the same time, Elzayat said his business falls under a "grey area." He decided to move forward with his ride-sharing businesss because he was tired of waiting for government to pass a bylaw.
"We are as fast as the government can move."
Who's behind the wheel?
Elzayat said there are almost 50 people in the Fredericton area who have applied to work as drivers for the Easy Services app.
Right now, those people are being trained to become drivers for early next year.
They also need the proper documentation to qualify as drivers so they have the same qualifications as taxi drivers of traditional companies. They also need a Class 5 driver's licence, insurance and a clean background check. Their vehicles also need to be compliant.
The drivers will be able to make up their own schedules, and they will be able to to use their own vehicles.
With files from Information Morning Fredericton