Uber Gets Green Light for Ottawa Airport Pickups
Nearly two years after first arriving in Ottawa, ride-share service Uber is operating legally at the Ottawa International Airport.
The airport now has two curbside spots reserved for ride-share services such as Uber and a commercial agreement with the company to collect pick-up and drop-off fees. The airport authority is the first in Canada to reach such a deal.
“As soon as they (Uber) got their licence from the city, they were legal and able to operate here,” said airport spokeswoman Krista Kealey.
Kealey wouldn’t disclose terms of the deal, but said the pick-up and drop-off charges were similar to those paid by taxis and other ground transportation services.
Uber’s website shows a surcharge of $4 will be applied for pick-ups at the airport and $3.25 for drop-offs.
Ottawa airport passengers haven’t been able to hail an Uber ride since March when the company ordered its drivers to stop pick ups at the airport.
“When Uber stopped serving the airport, we were hearing about it,” Kealey said. “People would arrive in the city and open their app and hail an Uber and find they weren’t able to. That created some frustration. We saw that through social media. We saw it through web comments. We heard about it anecdotally from friends and others.
“So, it made sense that once Uber was included in the City of Ottawa regulations that we enter into an agreement with them.”
Uber has been operating unregulated since first arriving in Ottawa in October 2014. That changed last weekend when Ottawa became the first city in the province to enact a bylaw covering ride-share services like Uber.
Uber drivers servicing the airport must wait in a designated parking lot a few hundred metres from the terminal and wait for the company to assign a ride. The driver can then proceed to one of the curbside spots to meet the passenger.
An Uber ride from the airport to Parliament Hill will cost between $18 and $24, according to the company’s website. A ride from the airport to Place d’Orléans would cost $29 to $39. Riders will see the airport surcharges identified on their receipt, said Uber spokeswoman Susie Heath.
Ottawa’s largest taxi company, Coventry Connections, is working on a plan to drop its fares at certain times of the day to compete with Uber. President and CEO Hanif Patni told the Citizen last week that his company is negotiating with its union and hopes to have a plan in place by early 2017.
Uber, meanwhile, has launched a new mapping initiative in Ottawa-Gatineau using cars equipped with rooftop cameras to collect street and traffic information. Uber’s mapping cars have been on the road in U.S. cities for a number of years, but this is the first time they’ve been used in Canada, Heath said.
The information will be used to improve service by identifying the best pick-up and drop-off locations and to find the best routes for drivers.
“We’re investing in the Ottawa-Gatineau area because it is one of our fastest growing markets, and the need for high-quality and accurate maps underlying the Uber experience has become even more important,” Heath said.