Fredericton — Ride-share apps are big in urban centres worldwide, and one Fredericton business owner thinks his new app, modelled after Uber, can work in New Brunswick too.
Unlike Uber, this app, called Easy Services, is tailored toward smaller cities such as Fredericton with smaller populations. Once a bylaw is created to accommodate it, capital city residents will be able to get around with ease and efficiency — and without the hassle of waiting for taxis that may never come.
Taxi drivers, though, have expressed concerns over what ride-sharing apps will mean for their livelihood.
“If people have an option besides my cab that smells like stale cigarettes and vomit, that won’t take them all the way to their place on the north side, where I charge them around $10 per minute and where I tell them about conspiracy theories the whole ride, then my business is sunk,” said longtime cab driver Geoff Jamieson.
“Plus, to be honest, I kinda get off on the power of waiting outside the Tannery at 1:30 a.m., pulling up to someone, then tearing away when they tell me where they want to go. It’s a rush!”
Taxi drivers in other areas of the province say that ride-share apps were never meant to be part of the New Brunswick commuting landscape.
“Cabs are good enough for Saint John and they’re good enough for you stuck-up Frederictonians, too,” said Port City cab driver Jerry Olson. “If you get one of these apps then everyone in my city’s gonna want them too. Put the brakes on all the negativity about taxis, I say!” he added, spitting on the floor of his vehicle for emphasis.
New Brunswickers hope apps like Easy Services are here to stay.
“The last time I got a taxi it took an hour to show up, the driver hit on me profusely even though I was sitting in the back and staring at my phone, the whole vehicle smelled like farts and Big Macs, and he dropped me off a mile from home,” said Annie Jarvis. “So yeah, an app where you can actually rate the drivers and there’s competition so they have some incentive not to act like pigs — that would be pretty sweet!”
Some locals wonder why it is cab drivers think they would be out of work with the dawn of ride-sharing in New Brunswick.
“Can’t taxi drivers just get jobs as Easy Services drivers, if the app really takes off and starts cutting into normal taxi business?” asked Moncton resident Shirley LeClare. “Then they could set their own schedules, have essentially the same position, but not get screamed at by a surly dispatcher at all hours of the day and night…? Like does it have to be taxi-driving or nothing?”
Cab drivers says that shifting theirs careers to a ride-sharing app would violate something called “the cabbie code.”
“We all agreed never to improve or adapt to the changing times,” insisted Jamieson. “That’s the cabbie code. I’ve been doing this for 20 years! I’m not just going to suddenly stop smoking in the car, or overcharging people, or explaining how I’m related to the Queen of England and that the City of Fredericton is trying to poison everyone with the drinking water, or refusing rides based on my whim.
“You wouldn’t get it.”