Town pays Uber to give citizens lifts

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CANADA According to CityMetric, Innisfil, a small town near Toronto, has hired Uber as an alternative to developing a public transport network of its own.

In a trial programme, the town put aside around £60,000 to subsidise Uber rides for the town’s 36,000 locals instead of forking out what it claimed would be hundreds of thousands to set up bus routes, said the publication. Providing a journey confirms to certain limits (set locations and so forth), the passenger rides in an Innisfil-sponsored Uber car that will cost a fixed rate of between £1.79 and £2.98; the town then steps in and pays the difference between that set rate and what the ride would actually have cost at full fare. If the journey goes beyond these limits, the passenger pays whatever the total comes to, minus a standardised discount of £2.98 from the town on whatever the journey ends up costing.

The plan makes allowances for those who don’t use smartphones, or credit and debit cards. A potential user can send a simple SMS text message instead of using the app.

Local taxi firms are said to be decidedly unimpressed, but Innisfil has promised to refund levies it charges local companies to cover the first year of the Uber scheme.

Once the £60,000 pilot fund has been used, data collected throughout the scheme will be analysed in detail.