By the holiday season, Kelowna residents could have a new transportation option.
Major ridesharing company Uber has announced it hopes to be operating in the city by the end of the year.
Local taxi companies say they are not too concerned about the new competition and are planning their own entry into the ride hailing market.
“Basically it is just going to be a sit back and watch…to see if it does really give us any competition,” Roy Paulson a spokesperson for Kelowna Cabs said.
“We are ready for it too. We’ve been preparing for it since they started discussing about ride sharing in the Okanagan.”
Between the company’s revamped app and existing customer base, Paulson is confident the taxi company is offering a competitive service and is not too worried about Uber’s possible entry into the market.
“A lot of people will say there (are) not enough taxis in town. At the peak times possibly not, because it is just such a surge,” Paulson said.
“That’s maybe where the ride sharing will have a little bit of a benefit to catch our overflow.”
Three Kelowna taxi companies, including Kelowna Cabs, are behind another business that is approved to offer ride hailing in Kelowna.
The local taxi industry is positioning their ride hailing company, Safe Ride Sharing, as the local alternative to major players like Uber.
Safe Ride Sharing CEO Ashok Tyagi said the idea is to create jobs locally and keep money in the local community.
The launch date for Safe Ride Sharing is still to be determined.
The owner of Apple Cabs is also involved in Safe Ride Sharing and said because of the option to provide either traditional taxi service or ride hailing, he’s not concerned about Uber moving into Kelowna.
In total, seven companies have already been approved to offer ride hailing in the Okanagan including Victoria-based Lucky to Go.
Lucky to Go started serving Kelowna earlier this summer.
It’s also not sweating Uber’s possible entry into the market.
“We’ll see about the competition when it happens, but for now we’ve got a tremendous amount of community support,” Lucky to Go CEO Mandeep Rana said.
Uber expects it will take around three months to find out if it has the go ahead to start serving Kelowna.