Bikes, booze and e-scooters are part of Uber Canada’s plans for the country in 2019.
Managers from the U.S.-based tech giant revealed Monday priorities they have for the Canadian market in the year ahead, that they say are meant to grow the giant ride-hailing and food delivery company and offer a handful of new services to customers.
The bulk of the company’s 2019 Canada priorities appear to centre around removing cars from roadways.
“We want the Uber app on your cellphone to provide you with access to each type of transit that is relevant for you,” Uber Canada’s general manager Rob Khazzam said.
“That means in the future you are going to open the app and not just see Uber X or an ExpressPool or a Pool in a high-end vehicle. We are going to increasingly be providing you with access to different modes of transportation that better the journey you are going on.”
He hinted that Canadians could soon see public transit partnerships like the company has arranged with Masabi, a mobile ticketing firm that works with transit systems including New York, Boston and Los Angeles.
He also teased that e-scooters and bikes are headed Canada’s way, but wouldn’t share when or where the company was looking at.
“There will be some nuance as is always the case for Canada and the wonderful weather we have here,” he said, a quip at the snow that was falling outside Uber’s office in Toronto.
“We tend to be nimble in how we expand. We really want to get things right. Particularly for a new mode of transportation, we are going to be really thoughtful in how we test that and demo it.”
Controversy over e-scooters
Uber has partnered with New York-based Jump to bring e-scooters and pedal-assisted electric bikes with GPS to a handful of U.S. cities, but has not delivered the offerings to Canadians.
California-based rival Lime has been piloting its e-scooters in Waterloo, Ont., and Bird has reportedly been looking at expanding into the Canadian market.
Jump, Lime and Bird have all faced flak because most of their offerings are dockless, allowing users to pick up or leave e-scooters and bikes wherever they chose. In some cities, it has meant abandoned e-scooters and bikes littering streets and sidewalks.
Social media has also seen posts in recent months featuring people destroying e-scooters by throwing them off buildings, lighting them on fire, dumping them in the ocean and smashing them on concrete.
“As with all types of business and every part of Uber safety is a major consideration,” Khazzam stressed. “Expect us, if we do launch those services, to have a point of view on that and be proactive on educating our riders.”
Expanding Uber Eats with booze
The company has its sights sets on broadening its Uber Eats offerings.
Dan Park, the head of Uber Eats Canada, said his team is exploring expanding alcohol delivery to provinces beyond B.C., where the service was launched last year.
Ontario and Quebec, he said, are among the markets his team are eyeing first because of their large size and the potential to partner with the LCBO and SAQ, but he sees rolling the service out across the country.
“Each province has their own regulatory framework around that,” he said. “There is a really great opportunity around pairing food with wine or beer and we want to focus on that.”
Park also indicated that Uber Eats could edge into the territory of Ritual, a Toronto-based app that lets users order restaurant food through their app and pick it up.
“We have to offer as many options as possible,” he said. “In-dining solutions, whether it is takeout or even in-restaurant are things we are continuing to look at.”