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May 1, 2020

6 min. read

A look at new and existing ride-share services across Manitoba.

Ride-sharing services are shifting how Manitobans get around.

Also known as transportation network companies, the services use mobile apps and websites to match passengers with drivers and vehicles. And according to Teresa Di Felice, assistant vice president of government and community relations for CAA, they're growing across Manitoba. "They provide alternatives to traditional ways of getting around," she says.

Ride sharing gives consumers more choice, but it's also led to improvements in the taxi industry. "It encourages traditional taxi companies to look at themselves and say, ‘Okay, how can we be doing things differently, and maybe even better? What do consumers want that we're not offering?'" Di Felice says.

Since 2010, when industry leader Uber launched in San Francisco, similar companies have rolled out ride-sharing services around the world. Following changes to provincial regulations, city bylaws and insurance offerings, companies began operating in Winnipeg and a handful of other Manitoba cities in 2018.

Regulations give consumers peace of mind, Di Felice says, but they also meant the biggest names in ride sharing, Uber and Lyft, remained absent in Manitoba. They took issue with Manitoba Public Insurances's coverage requirements. In March, after reaching an agreement with MPI, Uber announced it would be entering the Winnipeg market before the end of spring.

Smaller companies didn't have those same concerns. Vancouver based ReRyde Technologies, for instance, operates in Winnipeg, Selkirk, Morden and Winkler, and has plans to expand to Thompson, Brandon, Portage La Prairie, Steinbach and Dauphin. The company intends to introduce accessible vehicles later this year. "We hire people within the community—and those people serve the community—so it's a win-win," says Jamil Chaudhry, ReRyde's director of operations.

One challenge has been assuaging customer fears over sharing personal and financial information through an app. Younger users tend to be more comfortable with online transactions, but older generations are less familiar. Chaudhry says ReRyde's system is safe and secure.

Manitoba's 2018 Local Vehicles for Hire Act gave municipalities the authority to license and regulate vehicles for hire. In Winnipeg, such vehicles include taxis, personal transportation providers (under which ride sharing falls) and limousines.

Grant Heather, manager of vehicles for hire with the City of Winnipeg, says 19 companies are currently approved to be personal transportation providers. Many of them specifically serve people with disabilities. Heather says TappCar, ReRyde and URIDE are currently the biggest rideshare operations in Winnipeg: "They recognized there was an opportunity to gain a foothold without Uber in the marketplace."

Taxis still account for most trips in Winnipeg. The city tracks rides reported by all vehicle-forhire companies, and data shows 92 percent of trips in 2019 were in taxis, seven percent in rideshare cars, and limos represented less than one percent.

With Uber arriving in Winnipeg, the number of ride-sharing trips will definitely increase. "Competition is good. "It brings up the level of customer service and gives people—residents, visitors and drivers—a better experience," Heather says.

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