After hearing a presentation about a partnership between ride sharing company Uber and the Town of Innisfil, Haliburton County councillors recently asked to hear more about the arrangement, requesting more information from the involved parties.
It’s a concept that seems a worthwhile option for the county.
There is no single solution to the quagmire of public transportation in Haliburton County. The provision of general, public transit cannot be established through any one means. The municipality’s large geographic area and sparse population mean that a traditional transit system – buses and bus stations, like one sees in cities – is not feasible for the community. We all know that.
The answer to transit in Haliburton County will be a blend of different methods, including perhaps a fixed bus route travelling between the county’s most populated communities, perhaps in combination with some kind of booked, shared ride service.
Uber could also be part of that picture. It should not be viewed as the solution to transportation in the county; it should be viewed as a solution to transportation in the county.
As most readers are likely aware, Uber is an internet-based transportation service that allows everyday people to essentially use their vehicles as cabs. Drivers have profiles, riders have profiles, with accounts created and rides paid through a credit card. Everything is digitally based.
When you want a ride, you “drop a pin,” indicating your location, and a nearby driver is alerted to your request. You are able to track the driver’s progress in real time, so you know exactly when your ride will show up.
Drivers and riders get to rate one another, so if you have a driver who is reckless or rude, you can indicate that in your rating, although most of the experiences I’ve personally ever had using Uber in Toronto have been very positive, including one Sade-loving, minivan-driving father who once picked us up from a Jays game.
It’s quick and convenient for users and, in a community largely reliant on precarious, part-time and low-paying work, the presence of Uber would also provide some county residents a means through which to subsidize their income, on days and at times that work for them.
Under the Innisfil model, the municipality subsidizes rides for users and between May 15 and Dec. 31 of 2017, spent $150,000 subsidizing more than 26,600 trips. Innisfil is more populated but more dense than the county, and it’s difficult to judge what uptake might be, so it’s difficult to say whether this figure would be comparative for Haliburton County.
It’s something worth trying and if it doesn’t work out, the county can just drop it.