Uber Comes to Lethbridge

Lane Anderson

Lane Anderson

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  (Photo: Lane Anderson)
(Photo: Lane Anderson)

Uber was launched in Lethbridge on Friday!

The ridesharing service connects drivers with riders through the Uber app. It has revolutionized the way people travel in larger city centres, but it has finally come to Lethbridge as well.

After settling some regulatory turbulence and pushback in Calgary and Edmonton, Lethbridge was Alberta’s third city to receive Uber, aided by a welcoming City Council who was eager to see the ridesharing service set up in our city. In Calgary, Uber has over 70,000 riders and nearly 1,500 drivers.

Red Deer also opened up to Uber on Friday, but was officially Alberta’s fourth city for the service. We win this round, Red Deer.

If you haven’t heard of Uber, it allows a rider to pull up the app on their phone, locate a nearby driver, and get picked up and driven to their destination.

  (Image: Uber)
(Image: Uber)

As you might predict, taxi companies aren’t thrilled. But it’s all part of a trending business model called the gig economy, the on-demand economy, or just the Uber economy. Other apps like Airbnb and Lyft work similarly. It takes a service  traditionally offered by corporate operators and puts it in the hands of everyone.

Anyone can become a driver with the car they already own, allowing them to earn money as an Uber driver. You can drive when you want, wherever you want, and for as long as you want, making it perfect for students or as a side job.

Both driver and rider receive reviews after a trip, and these do a great job of ensuring the quality of the service. Drivers can ignore riders with a low star rating, and riders can choose the five-star driver for their trip.

The transaction is also completely handled within the app and the rates are set by Uber. Once the trip is complete, the rider is automatically charged from the app and the driver receives their payment from Uber.

You can even split the fare between riders easily. So if there are three people stumbling home from Studio, they can split the fare between all three users within the app and share the cost of the ride.

When requesting a ride, you also see a fare estimate based on the time and distance of the ride, so there are no surprises how much the ride costs.

How to Become an Uber Drive in Lethbridge

As Uber works with municipal and provincial regulators, there are a few more steps involved to become a driver than when Uber was first launched. But with a little bit of paperwork and a license upgrade, it’s still pretty easy to start making money as an Uber driver in Lethbridge.

Uber driver requirements:

  • must have a Class 1, 2, or 4 driver’s license
  • must provide three-year driving abstract
  • must provide a police background check

Uber vehicle requirements:

  • must be 2007 or newer
  • must have four doors
  • must have five seatbelts
  • must pass vehicle inspection
  • must have appropriate insurance
  • must have Class 1-55 vehicle registration
  • cannot have salvaged or rebuilt status
  • cannot have commercial branding

While most of the requirements are a non-issue for anyone with a relatively new car, there are two barriers to getting started immediately: appropriate insurance and a professional driver’s license.

Intact Insurance has designed an Alberta-approved insurance policy specifically for ridesharing services like Uber. You can go to the Uber website for more details on the required insurance in Alberta, but a quick phone call or trip to an insurer should get a driver set up with what they need.

The professional driver’s license is easy to obtain as well. A Class 4 license is the one taxi drivers and ambulance drivers have to have, and would be the choice for drivers needing to upgrade. It’s a matter of taking a knowledge test, a vision test, and a road test, and then purchasing the upgraded license.

It’s only $13 to exchange a standard driver’s license for a professional driver’s license, another $17 for the knowledge test, and no more than $30 for the road test.

The change in vehicle registration to a Class 1-55 will cost about $20.

The rest of the process can be done through the Uber app or on their website.

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