Made-in-Ottawa app oRide aims to expand local ride-hailing options

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A city employee has created his own ride-hailing app and hopes to get both casual drivers and existing taxi companies to buy in.

Neville Hewage applied for a Private Transportation Company licence in December for oride. If he secures one, his company will stand alongside Uber as the only holders in Ottawa.

While oRide will offer rides and secure payment through an app like Uber, there are important differences that Hewage said will allow the company to carve out its own niche in the market.

Perhaps the biggest is oride will offer trips through taxi companies as well as its own drivers. Currently, oride is working with a licensed service called City Cab to provide booking and payment.

Even after oride receives its licence, Hewage said, the app will offer rides through City Cab, and other taxi companies interested in partnering with them. Rides with a taxi company would be subject to their rates.

Hewage said he hopes his app can bring taxi drivers into the 21st century.

“Otherwise they will be wiped out,” he said. “This is survival of the fittest.”

Hewage started looking into the creation of a new service when Uber began operating in Ottawa around October 2014.

“I have a lot of friends … they work for the taxis,” he said. “They took the wrong approach. Rather than fighting with Uber, they should have developed their business model. But they didn’t.”

He said oRide won’t compete directly with Uber because it won’t have surge pricing as Uber does, drivers will be able to keep a larger percentage of the fare and the minimum cost of an oride will be $8, which will discourage the short trips that Hewage said make up a significant percentage of Uber’s rides.

This story originally appeared in Metro News.