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Canadian town picks Uber for public transit

Innisfil, Ontario, concludes that subsidizing the car-hailing service is cheaper and more flexible than running its own buses.

Destinations around Innisfil, Canada, aren't easily reached by one or two bus lines.

Destinations around Innisfil, Canada, aren't easily reached by one or two bus lines.

Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Uber is suffering from a legal attack, a self-driving car crash, sexism criticisms and other concerns, but it just won a victory in a Canadian town looking to help its citizens get around.

Innisfil, population 32,727 as of 2014, concluded in a March council meeting that subsidizing the car-hailing service was a better deal than paying for a bus line.

The city plans to pay 100,000 Canadian dollars (about $75,000) for a first stage of the program and CA$125,000 for a second round about 6 to 9 months in. That compares to CA$270,000 annually for one bus and CA$610,000 for two, the town said.

The town evaluated on-demand transit proposals as an alternative to buses. "Uber emerged as the only company with an app-based platform (i.e. UberPool) that would facilitate ridesharing and the matching of two or more passengers on trips across the entire town," the town said in its explanation of the move.

Innisfil will subsidize Uber trips so citizens pay between CA$3 and CA$5 themselves, depending on the destination, the town said.

"You can't have taxpayers pay for a transit system which they cannot use," Innisfil Mayor Gord Wauchope told The Toronto Star. "And this was a transit system that people can get from anywhere in the town of Innisfil, and use it for a reasonable price."