Millennials would rather hail an Uber, while older Canadians prefer traditional taxi service

Millennials would rather hail an Uber, while older Canadians prefer traditional taxi service

Most hold a favourable view of ridesharing app, though two-thirds say it needs to be further regulated

May 4, 2018 – A new public opinion study from the Angus Reid Institute finds age to be the main driver of opinion when it comes to Canadian preferences for ride-sharing app Uber.

While four-in-ten Canadians overall say they would prefer to call a taxi (39%) rather than an Uber (29%), differences in responses to this question run along generational lines. Half of Millennial men (49%) and more than four-in-ten Millennial women (43%) say they would rather open up their Uber app than call a cab.

For older age groups, the preference for taxis rises significantly, while the desire to use Uber drops.

This issue of ridesharing appears far from settled in Canadians’ minds, however. As legislators across the country continue to try balance the concerns of multiple stakeholders, including oft-powerful taxi lobbies, residents voice widespread concern over the regulation of this burgeoning technology.

In fact, two-thirds of Canadians say that ridesharing apps need to be regulated similarly to taxi companies to ensure quality and safety standards.

More Key Findings:

  • Three-in-ten Canadians (29%) in the 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 age groups have used Uber. This drops to One-in-four (23%) among 35 to 44 year old’s, and significantly lower for elder age groups.
  • More Canadians hold a positive (49%) than negative (28%) view of Uber, while one-in-four Canadians are unsure or have no opinion (23%)
  • One-in-three Canadians (34%) say that Uber should definitely be allowed to operate in their community regardless of regulatory confines, while four-in-ten (42%) say that they would be open to this but only “under the right circumstances”
  • With Uber and other ridesharing apps continuing to grow, three-quarters of Canadians (78%) say that it is up to traditional taxi companies to “step up their game” to meet the rising competition


  • Call an Uber or a taxi? Generation divides preference

  • Awareness, use of Uber continues to grow

  • Few say Uber should be banned, many concerned about regulations

  • Agreement that cab companies need to up their game


Call an Uber or a taxi? Generation divides preference

To the chagrin of cab drivers and owners worldwide, ridesharing technology has continued to grow. Recently, the industry’s most recognizable name – Uber – was valued at around $70B, putting its market cap on par with manufacturing legends General Motors, Ford and Honda.

And, while taxi drivers have protested the tech company , it would appear Uber is winning the Canadian public relations battle with the next generation of customers.

Asked whether they would rather call a cab or hail an Uber, Canadians follow a generational pattern. Those in the 18 to 34 age group – and men this age in particular – prefer Uber by a significant margin over taxis. Among older respondents, that preference shifts substantially toward traditional taxis, though it is worth noting that a large group of Canadians (33%) say they have no preference between the two modes of travel.

The following graph shows how preference for Uber or a traditional taxi shifts with each age bracket:



Notably, those in the 18 to 34 age group, who are more likely to prefer Uber, are also the most likely group to be seeking a ride with either service. Four-in-ten Millennials are users of either Uber or taxis services, while this drops to 35 per cent for 35 to 54 year old’s and 29 per cent among the older cohort, those over the age of 55.



It is also noteworthy that this younger age group is most likely to be driving the demand for ride-hailing apps and services. Close to half of respondents in the 18 to 34 age group say they have difficulty getting a cab when they need one.

In Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto, residents are split near evenly between their preference for a cab or an Uber, with one-in-three taking each side. This is particularly notable in Vancouver, where the ridesharing app has not yet been sanctioned for operation. The propensity for Canadians to lean toward a taxi rather than an Uber overall is driven in large part by Quebec and rural areas, as shown in the following graph:


Awareness, use of Uber continues to grow

Since 2016, when the Angus Reid Institute first asked about this issue, the number of cities regulating and allowing Uber has grown and, relatedly, the number of Canadians using Uber has expanded. More than twice as many Canadians now say they have used Uber, while the number who say they have never heard of the company has dropped to just three per cent.



Younger Canadians – those in the 18 to 34 age group – are significantly more likely than older ones to have had experience with Uber. One-third of young men say they have used it (34%), while one-in-four young women say the same (26%).



Just as younger Canadians are more likely to use Uber, they are significantly more likely to say they have a positive view of the company:



Canadians over the age of 65 – almost all of whom have no direct experience with Uber – are split evenly between positive and negative views of the company, while all cohorts younger than them have at least a plurality-positive view:



Few say Uber should be banned, many concerned about regulations

As tensions between taxi companies and Uber supporters have grown over recent years, cities have been forced to confront the issue with their own regulatory approach. Some cities adopted policies more quickly than others.

In January of 2016 Edmonton was the first Canadian city to regulate Uber after creating requirements for drivers’ licenses, vehicle inspection and per-trip fees, among others. Meanwhile, legislators and stakeholders continue to discuss ride-sharing policy in British Columbia, while illegal ride-sharing apps reportedly thrive.

For their part, one-in-three Canadians (34%) are less concerned about the circumstances surrounding Uber, and support Uber in their own cities regardless of regulatory considerations. A greater number (42%), however, say that the right circumstances have a role to play in their support for Uber, making these policy discussions vital. Support for Uber without regulation is lowest in Quebec, where the company had threatened to pull their operations, but ultimately decided to stay, after the government introduced stricter rules for operation:




Significantly, there is an uptick in support for Uber without conditions in many of Canada’s major metropolitan centres. In Vancouver, four-in-ten residents say Uber should ‘definitely’ be allowed to operate, while a similar number say ‘maybe’. In Calgary, which approved Uber’s operations late in 2016, the highest number of residents show support for the ride-hailing app.

Some of this concern over circumstances may be related to another data point in this survey: Four-in-ten Canadians say they are concerned that allowing Uber to operate unregulated will lead to worsening conditions for both taxi drivers and Uber drivers alike.



With this in mind, many Canadians would like to see the same standards brought in that taxi companies have to meet. Indeed, two-thirds (66%) say that the government should regulate Uber in the same way it regulates taxis. This would mean passenger safety, proper licensing, and adequate insurance would all be required by law. A majority of Canadians of all political stripes and age groups agree with this sentiment:



In the absence of some of these regulatory requirements, Uber has run into difficulty. London, Uber’s largest European market, recently revoked the company’s operating license after the European Court of Justice ruled that the company should be treated as a traditional taxi firm and not a technology platform. The city itself had previously voiced concerns over the safety of passengers.


Agreement that cab companies need to step up their game

The rise of Uber and other ridesharing apps has lent credence to the view of many people that taxi services are lacking in their city. This study confirms that sentiment. In fact, four-in-five Canadians (78%) across all generations say that cab companies need to step up their service to compete with the new wave or transportation alternatives:



Most Canadians also say that not allowing Uber in their city would be stifling market competition. This is the case in every region of the country, with British Columbians and Manitobans most in agreement.



The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.

For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.

For detailed results by city/region, click here.

Click here for the full report including tables and methodology

Click here for the questionnaire used in this survey

Image – Wikimedia Commons


Shachi Kurl, Executive Director: 604.908.1693 @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, Research Associate: 250.899.0821

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