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Manitoba’s Forgotten Cab Consumer – Why Winnipeg Needs UBER


Why Winnipeg Needs UBER:

FACT: By law, Manitoba’s Taxi Board has artificially limited the number of cabs on the road since the 1950s to protect the income of a cartel of cab owners.

FACT: Since that number has barely budged, the number of cabs available per person has actually dropped over time, from roughly 1 cab per 1,000 people in the 1960s to less than 0.65 cabs per 1,000 Winnipeggers today.*

FACT: Even though we’re colder and we’re more spread out, even though our bus system is “at capacity” according to Winnipeg’s Transit director, Winnipeg has fewer cabs on the road per person than any other major city in Canada except Vancouver* – and there’s no sign that’s going to change any time soon.

FACT: Manitobans know there’s too much drunk driving in this province. In a Statistics Canada survey a few years ago, over 7% of residents admitted they’d driven drunk in the previous year. Cold weather and poor access to cabs isn’t an excuse – but it is an explanation, and we could be doing something about the problem if we allowed for faster, more reliable rideshare services.

FACT: When the rideshare company Uber announced its intention to bring its convenient rideshare service to Winnipeg, the taxi cartel pushed the government to protect them – and the province responded by announcing it would do everything it could to stop Uber from putting consumer needs ahead of the taxi cartel’s needs.


This matters now because two cities are in the news for living both sides of the tired debate over cab service. One city is taking Manitoba’s approach, while the other is looking to the future instead.

First, take Calgary. Calgary City Council took the tired old path a few days ago when it announced it would delay the release of 57 new cab licenses, despite increased demand. Note that unlike Winnipeg, Calgary had already boosted the number of licenses by 126 in 2014. In virtually the same news cycle, Calgary officials also cracked down on carshare services, even though these services – like Car2Go, ZipCar and Winnipeg’s own Peg City – have been found to reduce demand for cars on the road, cutting congestion and pollution.

Calgary made the same mistake as Manitoba is making today. The logic Calgary used to justify continuing to artificially limit cab supply was simple: they said a recession might be in the wind, due to low oil prices. So, to fight the recession, they’re using the government’s power to protect high fares and artificially maintain the high market value of a cab license to benefit the cab cartel.

This is backward thinking. If a recession is in the wind, shouldn’t we be trying to offer more access and cheaper service to the silent majority of consumers? What about the men and women without special connections, lobbyists and legislated perks – the people who just want to get a ride without having to wait forty minutes for a driver who insists on being paid in cash? What about the underemployed, the working poor or laid-off workers who’ll be under pressure to drive less, buy fewer cars and find cheaper transportation options? What about those who could ride out the recession by making money driving part-time, if only the market would let them?

Next, take New York – a city where supporting flexibility in transit, cycling, carshare and rideshare services are a matter of public policy. Uber is legal there. And the results are clear: earlier this month, we learned that within a couple of years of launching, Uber cars now outnumber New York’s fleet of Yellow Cabs on New York streets.

But as Slate wrote on learning the news, that isn’t necessarily a threat to cabs, since an Uber-registered car and driver are much more likely to be on the road part-time, picking up excess demand in the system.

Manitoba is economically isolated, we haven’t exploited our natural advantages as effectively as our neighbours, and our industrial strength is weakening in the face of competition from the south and west. In response, Mayor Bowman wants Winnipeg to be “the Silicon Valley of the North” – as though there aren’t a dozen other cities already ahead of us in competition for that honour. Opening up room for the industries of the future, now, while others are still resisting – that’s one path to propel Manitoba Forward and grab that title. Being more open to innovative companies like Uber could also help us to solve specific policy problems – like our unconscionably high provincial drunk driving rate.

But neither result is coming to Manitoba any time soon, as long as our governments consistently put the needs of politically connected cartels first, while they put the needs of Manitoba consumers last.

* See “We Have Been Here Before: Supply Management in Transportation,” Conference Board of Canada, 2013.


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Dave Shorr

5 thoughts on “Manitoba’s Forgotten Cab Consumer – Why Winnipeg Needs UBER

  1. YOU neglected to mention the most important point. Manitoba is the only province that governs Taxicabs. All other provinces in this country recognized Transportation Infrastructure as a Civic responsibility. More taxis first, then a ride share company If needed. Uber would cost almost twice the current taxi fare.

  2. Will never happen… people running this city still lives under a rock. Can’t wait to leave this city. Vancouver is more technologically savvy that this dump.

  3. I resigned from Unicity Taxi for many reasons but most of all due to all the customer complaints etc. I would like speak with someone about these details rather then type it here. I would really love to work with a new company who values customer service and respects the law. I can be a great addition to help escalate another company to Winnipeg as I know all the ins and outs of the Industry. I worked for Unicity for 5 years and these past complaints and the subsequent dishonesty and poor customer service are some of the reasons I left. I would love to chat with someone who is willing to tackle this issue head on. Now is when the move needs to be made. The drivers are fed up with the treatment they are getting from their owner of the cab, the airport is disappointed with the customer service and the lost and found process is ridiculous.
    Please email if you wish to discuss.
    Thank you

  4. This is the most bias article I have ever read. I feel like you are a person from Uber. I don’t trust Uber I had plenty of friends who were taken by these Uber drivers and dropped off at sketchy places (not there original location) and then mugged, all of them being from Edmonton. All Uber does is take a photo of your face, which can be anyone’s, and then your all good to be a driver. Taxi drivers have to have a police criminal background check and have to be licensed. Winnipeg has plenty of taxis, more then enough. Most of the time you see them waiting at hotels or shopping malls because they are not getting calls. We don’t need Uber here, the only time you even need more cabs is in winter time, which the taxis companies counter that by making Christmas cabs. I don’t know where you are getting your facts, but you have no proof of them which makes them untrustworthy. I personally take taxis all the time, my favorite being Unicity, and they always come on time, I never had to wait for them. I am all foward to make Uber illegal in Winnipeg and Canada. Oh and btw they are called taxi companies that transport people and make a decent wage , not cartels that kill people – get your facts straight.

  5. Know the FACTS about UBER SCAM

    1. UberX drivers don’t have commercial insurance. 100% UberX drivers cheat on their personal insurance companies, pls call your own personal insurance company and tell them you want to drive for Uber, your insurance policy will be cancelled immediately.

    2. Uber drivers don’t pay GST/HST like taxi drivers. Uber does’t mandate its drivers to register with Revenue Canada to pay GST/HST?

    3. Does Uber collect HST/GST on the fares like taxis & Limo driverrs?

    4. Why Uber does’t want to pay taxes in Manitoba?

    5. Uber drivers don’t carry commercial driver licences, will be breaking Manitoba Traffic Safety Act.

    5. Uber drivers don’t get Winnipeg Police Service extensive background check to work with vulnerable people?

    6. Uber drivers don’t get City shauffer permit & new driver training.

    7. Uber drivers don’t complete mandatory Defensive Driving Course like taxi drivers.

    8.Taxi drivers can’t drive with more than 7 demerit points what about Uber drivers?

    9. No maximum vehicle age limit & mandatory City mechanical inspection.

    10. No safety shields, high resolution video cameras, emergency panic button & GPS in the vehicle for customer & driver protection.

    11. No marked vehicles like taxis for safety & no city regulated fares.

    12. Insurance Bureau of Canada & Superintendent of Alberta insurance have issued warnings about UberX no insurance.

    13. We welcome Uber as a licensed, regulated taxi company where it plays by the same rules as taxi & limo drivers. Uber has legal taxi apps working in some cities!

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