Taxi drivers are calling UberX app unfair, riders are hailing it
"I am placing you under citizens arrest, because what you're doing is illegal. Because this car is not licensed as a public passenger vehicle, and you are not accredited to operate a public passenger vehicle." Limo driver in Australia, not impressed by the arrival of Uber X cars
It happened to music. It happened to books. It happened to newspapers. Now it's happening to taxis. New technology has thrown the taxi industry into upheaval. It's called Uber X, a new smartphone app that allows you to order a ride. But Uber X drivers aren't licensed cabbies. Anyone with a relatively new car and a clean criminal record can become a driver.
Uber X is one of the car services from San Francisco based company Uber. In just over a year the service has branched out to more than 200 cities in 45 countries... including four cities in Canada.
While many people are enthusiastic about the convenient technology and cheaper fares, many municipal governments are leery. In September, Uber X rolled out in Toronto where city council is now seeking an injunction. In Ottawa undercover city employees are handing out $650 fines to Uber X drivers. And the mayor of Montreal declared that Uber X is illegal after it arrived in his city at the end of October.
But despite these challenges the company was valued at $18 billion dollars this summer and is close to raising a new round of funding that would value it at between $35 and $40 billion.
Ingrid Lunden is a writer and editor for TechCrunch.com. She has been covering the rapid rise of Uber. She joined us from London, England.
Not surprisingly many taxi drivers are joining the call to put the brakes on Uber's rapid expansion into Canadian cities. Amrik Singh is the president of Unifor Local 1688, which represents all taxi drivers in Ottawa. He also drives a taxi himself. He joined us from our Ottawa studio.
Uber has rolled out its Uber X service in four Canadian cities so far. But that's not the end of the road as far as the company's concerned. Jeff Weshler is the General Manager of Regional Expansion at Uber Canada. He was in Toronto.
What do you think of Uber X in the Canadian market... would you welcome competition? Is it something you'd consider using?
This segment was produced by The Current's Josh Bloch.