EDMONTON – Uber officials spoke out about their decision to temporarily suspend operations in Edmonton on Tuesday.
Late Monday night, the manager of the company’s operations in Alberta released a statement saying the decision was made in light of the provincial government revealing it wouldn’t be getting the ride-sharing company’s insurance ready right away, but expects to by July 1.
READ MORE: Uber temporarily suspends operations in Alberta’s capital
On Monday, Transportation Minister Brian Mason told reporters that while the insurance wouldn’t be ready until then, his government had already approved it. Mason said the delay was to make certain that the policy didn’t contain any hidden loopholes.
Mason also said Uber drivers will be required to have a Class 4 licence and to undergo background checks.
Uber suspended its operations within Alberta’s capital at 6 a.m. Tuesday, the same day Edmonton’s landmark ride-sharing bylaw took effect. The company has said it will continue operations in surrounding areas, however.
“All three things are in place for safety,” Mason said Tuesday. “If Uber’s business model doesn’t allow for that, then I would encourage them to revisit it to take advantage of that.”
Just because Uber isn’t offering Edmontonians ride-sharing services as the new regulations take effect, that doesn’t mean others aren’t trying to capture their share of the industry’s market.
READ MORE: Uber pressures Alberta to act on insurance, licensing before March
City officials said five regional dispatchers and one commercial dispatcher have been issued ride-sharing licences.
Under the new vehicle-for-hire bylaw, the city said the first legal ride-sharing providers to be issued regional dispatch licences are Metro Airport, Anytime Taxi, Cowboy Taxi, Dollar Cab and one private individual.
Local ride-sharing startup TappCar is the lone commercial dispatcher with a city licence at this point. The company said it already has its insurance in place and is meeting other requirements in order to start hitting the road.
“Ninety-nine per cent of businesses, what you do is you look at what regulations are in place and build your model on that,” TappCar’s Pascal Ryffel said. “We don’t need anything to change – just a smart business strategy.”
Ryffel said TappCar expects to announce later this week when it will begin offering rides to customers.
The city said the next step is for the licensed ride-sharing service providers to have their drivers registered.
“This is actually adding a service – and adding choice and innovation to the market,” David Hales, the city’s branch manager for development services, said.
With files from Quinn Ohler.