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Uber’s new weapon in the taxi-app battles: free cab rides

Of the several car-hailing apps that have launched in Toronto in the past year, Uber, an app that summons limos, town cars and now taxis, is the most visible—which has made it the logical target of opposition. The Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association, a trade group based out of Maryland, recently sent out a press release to Toronto media saying it “considers certain smartphone apps such as Uber to be ‘rogue’ services operating outside of the public’s best interests,” and argues that those apps violate passenger safety, access, non-discrimination and fare standards. (At least one of those allegations has some weight: Toronto’s director of licensing has said that city staff may soon rule that Uber is operating illegally because it hasn’t yet applied for a limousine service licence.) In the face of that negative press, Uber has found an easy way to maintain goodwill with the public: offer them free rides. For the next three days, anyone using an Uber smartphone app can order a taxi and ride for free, to a limit of $20 per ride. There’s no cap on the number of trips, so order away until Wednesday at 11:59 p.m.