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