Taxis can and will compete with Uber, CTA exec tells conference
by Rita Smith
“Who drives for Uber?” Edmonton’s Phil Strong, Treasurer of the Canadian Taxi Association (CTA) asked in one of the more humourous moments of the 2017 CTA conference.
“I’ll tell you who drives for Uber. There are two pools that Uber draws from: first, the pool of drivers that we have already fired because their accident record is so bad, their loss profile is so horrible, that if we see them on our property we will chase them away before we will ever let them drive one of our cars.
“Second, is the pool of young people who have never driven for more than an hour and a half at a time and are now trying to stay awake for an eight hour shift. They want to drive for a few hours here and there to earn beer money. Who knows? Maybe they earn their beer money and go back to the bar with their buddies. They were never professional drivers before, and they are not professional drivers now.”
Strong, who is president of the Greater Edmonton Taxi Service which operates over 1,600 cabs under four brand names, told the conference that automation and technology are transforming the ways in which the traditional taxi industry can improve service levels for clients.
“Forty percent of our bookings are automatic now,” Strong noted. “The highest number of bookings are text-to-trip. Electronic invoicing is incredibly popular: clients simply do not want to be dealing with a paper ‘chit’ system. Youth shelters and foster homes which need to send young people on various legal and medical appointments want an electronic record of the fact that a fare was dropped off where they were supposed to be dropped off Ð and did not wind up somewhere else along the way.
“Law firms want nothing but electronic invoicing,” he said. “This is how we remain competitive.”
Regarding recent developments in the ground transportation industry, Strong declares: “I think we are going to win the fight. There is no doubt in my mind that we are going to win the fight.”
Strong points to the creation of the Canadian Taxi Consortium as a positive force in the taxi industry. Firms from Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal are now working together to share information and educational techniques in order to improve standards and service levels.