Waiting times to order a taxi or Uber transport have never been so long in Quebec, as several drivers have chosen to leave the industry for good during the pandemic.
In Montreal as in the regions, all the taxi ranks say they are faced with the same reality: several of their drivers have not taken to the road, while in several places demand has almost returned to normal from the start of the season. ‘summer.
“As there is a shortage of drivers, it can easily amount to an hour or two hours of waiting. There is even a client the other time in Quebec who had been waiting for 2:45 when we went to pick him up, ”laments Edgar El-Kalaani, director of Taxi Hypra.
This company, which serves the entire province, estimates that 80% of its drivers have not resumed their activities.
The Uber application also acknowledges having difficulty providing since the deconfinement.
“We anticipate that the growth in demand will continue in the fall in Montreal, as several festivals are scheduled for September and that restaurants should remain open with the health passport,” adds Jonathan Hamel, manager of public affairs at Uber. in Quebec.
Uber $ 1,000 bonus
The American multinational therefore offers a bonus of $ 1,000 starting for new drivers. However, there is no question of changing the business model in order to guarantee a certain basic income.
And that is the whole problem, according to Christian Harvey, a driver from Quebec who abandoned this service at the start of the health crisis. Because for this septuagenarian, the pandemic alone cannot explain the difficulties of recruiting the company.
“Uber treats us like numbers. It was interesting at the start, but we realize that it does not pay off because there are all kinds of hidden costs. And it’s also much more difficult now to get technical assistance, ”slips the one who now works for a taxi cooperative.
On the side of the traditional taxi too, the causes behind the current shortage of drivers would be multiple. Many cite Bill 17, which came last October to deregulate the industry.
“It’s no longer worth working full time. There are therefore no longer any taxi professionals, only people who use a part-time taxi to make ends meet, ”suggests Max-Louis Rosalbert, president of the Montreal Taxi Owners Group.
Others report that several drivers have migrated to food delivery services in recent months and intend to stay there, as customers are used to being more generous with tips.