HALIFAX — A Canadian ridesharing company is recruiting drivers in Halifax ahead of its planned expansion to the city.
URide announced its intention to come to Halifax just a few days after the provincial government loosened licensing restrictions for taxi and ridesharing drivers.
“We’ve been looking at the East Coast for a long time,” says URide founder and CEO Cody Ruberto. “We’ve been following things closely and we’re excited that Halifax is opening up.”
URide began in Thunder Bay in 2017, after Ruberto noticed huge crowds of people waiting around trying to find rides home on weekend nights.
“You’d see all these people outside of restaurants or bars on Friday or Saturday night just stranded and waiting for a ride home. In the winter it would get to negative thirty, negative thirty-five, and people would walk home in that. Other people would hop in their car and drive,” he says.
Two companies have now confirmed they’re setting up shop in Halifax. On Thursday, Uber announced it was coming to the city sometime before the end of the year.
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Often, people would be forced to linger two or three hours to get picked up. On a holiday, he says it could be closer to four hours.
“We knew there was a major problem. A lot of friends of mine would hop into their cars after having a few drinks which was a major, major problem.”
Eventually, Ruberto started giving free rides to people just to try to prevent them from driving drunk. But he says he “couldn’t even put a dent in the crowd.”
That’s when he decided to start URide.
The company originally launched in partnership with a local limousine service. Eventually, URide drivers secured ridesharing insurance and started giving rides with their own cars.
Ruberto says they quickly realized finding a ride wasn’t just a problem for the weekend bar crowd. People were also struggling to get to and from the grocery store, or doctor’s appointments.
URide started offering rides around the clock, transforming into a more traditional ridesharing platform.
About a year later, in 2018, URide began expanding into other markets. The company now operates in some capacity in approximately 15 Canadian communities.
URide announced its intention to come to Halifax around the same time as the ridesharing industry’s biggest player, Uber.
Ruberto doesn’t give many details on how URide plans to compete with the market leader but points to his company’s origins as a solution to drunk driving and the fact that it’s a Canadian company.
“I think a lot of people want to support Canadian players,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of room in Halifax for more than one rideshare provider.”
URide is recruiting and onboarding drivers now and Ruberto says more than 100 people have already signed up to drive with the company. He didn’t say when the company will officially start operating in the city because that depends on how quickly URide can onboard enough drivers.
The municipal and provincial changes to licensing rules were the catalyst that attracted URide to Halifax, Ruberto says, but the company is also waiting for a few more changes to provincial insurance regulations before it will start operating here.