Rarely has a civic election made international headlines, but the mayoral contest in Toronto has been front page news all over the world for several months. This is, of course, due to Toronto’s larger than life mayor Rob Ford and his alleged drug use and fondness for nefarious language during several occasions both public and private. Drug use and racial slurs aside, the story of Rob Ford got even more intense when, earlier this year, he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and his brother Doug decided to take his place in the election. Torontonians head to the polls this upcoming Monday and people all over the world will undoubtedly be interested in the results of this election. It makes a lot of sense then that the people who run the ride-sharing app Uber would take advantage of the attention surrounding the city’s mayoral race to promote their UberX service.
Uber is offering a promotion for its UberX users in Toronto that will give them free rides to and from polling stations on Election Day, between the hours of 9:00am and 9:00pm, so that they can cast their ballot in this highly contested race. Uber users who would like to take advantage of this offer must enter the code POLLSTORONTO into their account before ordering their ride. This is a pretty smart PR move on Uber’s part as the service needs all the goodwill in Canada that it can get.
UberX first launched in Canada just this past September when it started offering service in Toronto. Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, was not far behind Toronto as UberX launched there this month. Word on the street is that Calgary is the next Canadian city in line to be a part of the UberX family but, in spite of its rapid expansion in Canada, Uber still faces many hurdles before it receives a whole-hearted welcome from many Canadian officials. Toronto City Council has questioned the safety of the service and the Insurance Bureau of Canada has warned potential Uber drivers that they have many concerns related to liability and coverage if there was an accident during an Uber ride. These are some pretty significant setbacks for the people at Uber who, for the most part, have been riding a wave of good PR and increased notoriety since their launch in 2010. Speaking of good PR, if they want to reverse their fortunes in Canada’s largest city then giving away free services is certainly a good place to start.