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Uber to launch ridesharing in Halifax on Thursday

Click to play video 'Uber coming to Halifax once enough drivers hired' Uber coming to Halifax once enough drivers hired
Ride-sharing services are another step closer to arriving in Halifax, as Uber Canada announced plans to launch its app in the city by the end of the year. Graeme Benjamin reports that won't happen until they find enough drivers – Oct 8, 2020

Uber will bring its popular ridesharing app to the roads of the Halifax Regional Municipality this week.

In a press release, the tech giant said its app will launch on Thursday at 1 p.m. AT., in order to help “enable essential travel.”

“Uber, a company that moves people, is asking you not to move,” said Matthew Price, general manager of Uber Canada, in a statement.

“Once restrictions ease, we look forward to supporting Halifax’s recovery and growth.”

Read more: ‘Halifax is now open for ridesharing’: Nova Scotia clears regulatory hurdles for Uber, Lyft

It’s the climax of a years-long battle for services like Uber, and its competitor Lyft, from entering the largest city in Atlantic Canada.

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Uber says that the company’s decision to enter the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) is meant to assist essential travel and that they urge residents to respect and follow the measures instituted by Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health last week that are meant to halt the spread of COVID-19.

Unlike in other regions, Uber says it will not have a media event to mark its launch in order to comply with gathering restrictions due to the pandemic.

There will be requirements for taking Uber, with both the driver and the rider being required to wear a mask or face cover.

Drivers will have to verify they are wearing a mask by taking a selfie and local public health officers will be able to request contact tracing support from Uber.

Click to play video 'Selfie safety: Uber launches new mask verification feature' Selfie safety: Uber launches new mask verification feature
Selfie safety: Uber launches new mask verification feature – Sep 25, 2020

The push to get ridesharing into the market only picked up steam over the past year.

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Halifax Regional Council voted 13 to 4 in September to allow ridesharing services, which the municipality refers to as Transportation Network Companies or TNCs, to operate in Halifax.

Companies that want to operate in the municipality are required to pay an annual licensing fee to do so, with how much they have to pay dependent on how many vehicles a company has in its service.

The costs range from as low as $2,000 for those that have up to 10 vehicles to as high as $25,000 for more than 100 vehicles.

Drivers registered through those companies will also be required to get criminal background checks every year, along with the child abuse registry and a vulnerable persons check.

Read more: Halifax to permit ride-sharing services like Uber, Lyft to operate in the municipality

Nova Scotia quickly followed by clearing the final hurdle stopping ridesharing companies from entering the market — introducing what the province described as a “modern” Class 4 driver’s licence that will no longer require holders to retake the province’s road and knowledge tests.

Both companies had previously argued that requiring their drivers to have a Class 4 licence would serve as a barrier to them entering the Halifax Regional Municipality.

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A Class 4 licence is more specialized than the basic Class 5 licence held by most drivers in the province.

The change is supposed to save Class 4 licence holders a $68 testing fee.

Click to play video 'Rideshare safety tips' Rideshare safety tips
Rideshare safety tips – Jul 8, 2020

The announcement was initially supposed to be made in February but was abruptly cancelled as a result of COVID-19.

All other requirements for a Class 4 licence, including a medical assessment, will remain.

A standard Class 4 licence, including a knowledge and road test, is still required to drive an ambulance or small buses with 24 or fewer passengers.

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