Uber launches in Red Deer today

By Josh Hall (Twitter: @Vancan19)
September 8, 2017 - 5:00am Updated: September 8, 2017 - 11:06am

Long-anticipated by many, Uber rolls out into the Red Deer market today.

“We are pleased to be launching in Red Deer to offer people safe and reliable transportation options when they need it.” said Ramit Kar, Uber Western Canada General manager. “Uber also provides flexible earning opportunities for local residents.” 

wenty vehicles are expected to be on the road according to one of Red Deer’s first Uber drivers, Joel Graham.

Graham says recently losing his job prompted him to sign up with Uber.

“This is kind of a short-term solution for me. This is intended for me to keep my bills paid,” he says. “I have the vehicle and the insurance, so why not put it to use and use it to help recover some of my costs?”

Graham attended one of the meetings Uber held in Red Deer in August and says he found it wasn’t as easy a process becoming a driver as he thought it would be.

“They're pretty stringent on who can be an Uber driver and what you’re driving. First off, you need a three-year driver’s abstract to make sure you aren’t a major felon or anything like that,” Graham says. “You also need a vehicle that’s 10-years-old or newer, a vehicle inspection done, you need to upgrade your license to a class 1, 2 or 4, and then you also need to upgrade your registration to commercial vehicle registration.”

All of that will set Graham back about $350, he says, but Uber reimburses drivers $200 following their 20th ride. Graham says he's getting another $150 from Uber for being ready for Uber's first day here.

“The taxi world here in Red Deer is not ideal – it’s very challenging to grab a taxi at times,” he continues. “The other aspect of it is it basically is allowing you to be your own entrepreneur with very little start-up and very little risk. There’s not much risk at all on the driver's side.”

Graham’s greatest concern is the 5-star rating system, which both drivers and riders use on their mobile devices to rate one another. To maintain your status as an Uber driver, your rating cannot dip below 4.6.

Graham says drivers will often offer gum or candy, free bottles of water or to charge their passenger’s devices in order to obtain a high rating.

“I haven’t done a lot of research into how much an Uber driver can make. There are stats out there, but this is [only] the second time Uber has tapped into a market of our size -- mainly they go to the big markets like Toronto and Montreal,” he says. “Lethbridge was launched last Friday. It was the first market of our size Uber has ever gotten into."

“In cities where Uber operates in Canada, rush hour for ride-sharing is not first thing in the morning or at the end of the day when people are getting to and from work, but late at night when bars close. That is why we are pleased to see Uber coming to Red Deer to provide people with a safe ride option when they need it the most.” Andrew Murie, MADD Canada CEO, said in a release.

rdnewsNOW reached out to Darryl Frenette, Owner and Manager of Associated Cab in Red Deer, who offered, “no comment.”

Uber officially launches in Red Deer at 11 a.m. Their coverage map shows a service area that includes the City of Red Deer, Gasoline Alley, and Red Deer Airport. 

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