A Thunder Bay-based rideshare company has reached a significant milestone.
Uride, developed by Cody Ruberto, has now provided one million rides since its inception in 2017.
The company currently operates in 12 cities in Ontario and British Columbia, and plans to expand further across Canada and internationally.
Ruberto came up with the idea after a night out with friends, when he observed people waiting in long lineups for taxis, and realized there was a need for more service.
"We originally were just focused on fixing this problem in Thunder Bay. It turned out it was a much bigger problem than we originally thought," he said in an interview Monday.
"People would often wait over an hour to get a ride home. It could be three to four hours if it was a holiday."
Ruberto was troubled that people felt compelled to walk home in frigid weather, or to drive themselves home when it was unsafe for them to be behind the wheel. He was also motivated by the fact he knew people who had died because of impaired driving.
He said "it's pretty surreal" to have provided over a million safe rides, but he believes there's a need for ridesharing in many more locations.
"We've really just scratched the surface. There are small communities around the world that really don't have access to reliable transportation. We're excited but we've got a lot of work ahead of us."
The rollout into cities in British Columbia continues, with Kelowna, Kamloops and Prince George being the newest additions. Nanaimo and Vernon, BC will launch on Dec. 2.
Uride encountered some bumps in the road after the pandemic began because it was challenging to retain drivers.
Ruberto said he's grateful to the drivers in Thunder Bay and elsewhere who continued to provide service, and to community members and local businesses that have provided support.