Uber taxi app arrives in Halifax

A new taxi service has arrived in Halifax, but you won’t see roof lights on these cars.

The smartphone app Uber, which uses your smartphone’s GPS to connect you to a driver, is quietly establishing a presence in HRM.

General manager Jeff Weshler said the company operates in more than 130 countries, and offers a “premium” service compared to conventional taxis.

“You’re paying for the type of vehicle that the driver is using, and the quality of service that individual provides,” said Weshler.

But not everyone is confident the company will thrive in Halifax’s crowded cab market.

“I don’t think anybody’s going to run across town for a small grocery run, and the customer’s going pay more than the normal taxi fare,” said Al DesLaurier, who sits on the board of the Halifax Taxi Drivers’ Association.

Traditional cab companies – and the city – are also keeping an eye on the new player.

“Competition is a good thing. It keeps everyone on their toes, provided the competition plays within the rules,” said Casino Taxi president Brian Herman.

Those rules are pretty specific in Halifax, according to city communications advisor Brendan Elliott.

He said the city has reached its limit on licenced taxis, but Uber seems to positioning itself as more of a limo service.

“They appear to have done their homework. They seem to know what is allowed,” said Elliott.

“We would like to meet with them to make sure that we’re all on the same page,” he added, a meeting that is scheduled to happen later this week.

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