Calgary Rethinks Uber Position

Uber has hardly enjoyed a smooth ride to regulations in Canada, but in Calgary it has been a bumpier path than most municipalities. The company decided to pull out of the city earlier in the year because it did not agree with regulations drawn in a new bylaw. However, Uber and the city have been in negotiations over the summer, and one Calgary councilor says the company could be readying for another try in the city.

Negotiations have focused on finding a way for the ride-sharing giant and others in the same market to enter Calgary. Since the city drew a new bylaw in February, ride-sharing companies have been legal to operate, but Uber chose to leave.


It is perhaps a sign that the bylaw is too strict that only 68 licenses have been issued to three ride-sharing firms since then. Uber’s assertion that the law was unworkable may well be true. The taxi industry will argue that means ride-sharing stays out of the market, but the council knows that there are economic opportunities for the city if its finds a way to adopt the industry.


Coun. Evan Woolley, argues that the Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) bylaw drawn by the city has failed.


“There have been negotiations ongoing over the past couple of months and I remain confident that we’ll reach an agreement shortly,” he said.


“We know that the current rules council passed have not worked, and Uber has said (the rules) wouldn’t work for them.”


While it seems the council thinks the regulations were a mistake, which was certainly not the case in February. The bylaw found a favorable vote of 14-1 and was spearheaded by Mayor Naheed Nenshi. Edmonton-based TappCar, Allied Black and Cowboy Taxi are the only companies to have secured licenses for 68 drivers in total.


Woolley says the bylaws make it too hard for companies to enter Calgary. Indeed, the city should have 2,000 licensed drivers by now, with major carriers like Uber and Lyft already established. That is clearly not the case and changes are needed.


“With only 68 licenses being given out, the system is obviously not working,” he said.

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