One of Red Deer's first Uber drivers says the first six weeks of business have been good, but adds more drivers are needed to keep up with demand.
Joel Graham, one of about 20 Uber drivers in Red Deer, offers rides three nights a week, typically during late night bar hours. Since Uber's Red Deer launch on September 8, Graham says he has given nearly 300 rides.
"I do think Uber still needs some more drivers in Red Deer. There are times where there are no cars available, so people are forced to use a taxi," Graham says. "Our boundary ends at Red Deer city limits and there seems to be a lot of hotels in the county that people from Edmonton and Calgary come to visit. Those people are used to using Uber and they know that Red Deer has Uber, but when they go to request a ride out there, they can't get a one because it is in the county."
The situation also applies to people who live in the city and work in the county, he points out, as they can get an Uber ride to work, but must take a taxi or a lengthy bus ride home.
To potentially solve this problem, the City of Red Deer and other nearby municipalities are currently working on a regional vehicle for hire bylaw.
Graham also says taxis are still out in full force, which he feels is a good thing. However, there have been times where taxi drivers have been aggressive or gone out of their way to cause friction, he claims. One such incident involved a cab driver saying no one else could pick up in the parking lot at Billy Bob's because the taxi company owned it.
The Sheraton Red Deer hotel confirms there is no such agreement.
Graham also says he once drove a cab driver back to their taxi.
"Everybody is so excited about Uber. They really love how easy it is to request a ride and how easy the payment is," he says. "Money is okay, it's definitely not a get rich quick scheme by any means. I will need to get a full-time job and then just keep Uber as a side job."
In the meantime, Erin Stuart, Manager of Inspections and Licensing with the City of Red Deer, says they have received very little in the way of feedback regarding Uber.
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