EDMONTON — No talking politics or religion, free gum and water, and maybe a red rose for customers on Valentine’s Day.
Those are some of the suggestions the United Cabbies Association of Edmonton is making for taxi drivers to try and lure customers back from Uber.
The ride-sharing service becomes legal in Edmonton on March 1, and taxi companies say they aren’t going to take the competition lying down.
They’ve come up with a 10-point plan aimed at improving taxi service.
It includes welcoming customers with a smile, opening and closing doors for them, keeping cars clean, and not talking on the phone while customers are in the cab, or making the call brief and in English.
Drivers are also being asked not to refuse out-of-town trips and drive within the speed limit.
Abouzar Aslam, vice-president of the United Cabbies Association of Edmonton, expressed hope that the new plan will allow taxi companies to be more competitive.
“We have to improve our service and the little things go a long way,” Aslam said. “We know that if we offer somebody a gum or a water bottle, or roses on Valentine’s Day, then we can win people’s hearts and minds and we can win back the customers we’ve lost to Uber.”
The changes are in response to popular complaints as well as increasing usage of Uber in Edmonton. The United Cabbies Association of Edmonton estimated that business has been cut in half since Uber started operating in the city.
It’ll be up to the driver to implement changes and any expenses will have to come out of the driver’s pocket.
Uber is an app-based business that allows people to request rides over their phones and sets them up with drivers who use their personal vehicles. Getting an Uber ride is typically cheaper than taking a taxi.