Waterloo Taxi looks back on Lokal as an innovative platform

Photo by Jackie Vang

In 2016, when Waterloo Taxi lost the battle to keep Uber out of the city, it seemed the 72-year-old company was destined for failure. 

With little regulation to keep Uber from straying from its business model, the stage was set for an all too familiar story. Instead, a different narrative emerged.

“We felt it was very important that we did not do what the rest of the industry was doing and whine and complain and ask regulators to ban and or keep Uber out or competition out. We thought it made sense for us to compete and the only way to compete was to provide an alternative.” said Tony Rodriguez, director of marketing for Waterloo Taxi.  

Lokal, the alternative app created by Waterloo Taxi, provides the same core functionality as its popular counterpart with the option to pay in app for rides, monitor a cab’s approach and rate drivers after trips. 

The service has steadily increased in use since its launch, now with 20 per cent of the company trips coming from the app. 

For those concerned about the practices of large contentious firms like Uber, Lokal makes it easier to support local business and families. 

Whether they can overcome the popular giant in the long run will be determined by the everyday decisions made by people of Waterloo.

“A third of our driver pool drive[s] full-time …   they support their families by doing this on a full-time basis,” Rodriguez said.

However, the app’s customers are not limited to objectors of big business. For the less empathetic, Lokal is a competitor that will earn market share from Uber.

“We are the only company in Canada that has mandated cameras,” Rodriguez said. 

Encrypted cameras provide customers an added sense of security, as do drivers that Rodriguez says receive comprehensive training. 

Rodriguez also spoke of the advantage of being located in the city.

“We are local. We’re here  … We respond in 24 hours … You put all of that together, you get a truly complete service,” Rodriguez said. 

There is no sense, when using the service, that a sacrifice in is being made to support local business. The app is easy to use, summons vehicles quickly and charges a competitive fare.

The taxi company’s parry against Uber has been an early success for the business. 

Whether they can overcome the popular giant in the long run will be determined by the everyday decisions made by people of Waterloo. 

“The numbers are growing every day, it’s quite extraordinary,” he said.

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