News

Never get caught in the rain with a new umbrella rental scheme in Vancouver

Published on Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Umbracity

Original article from Lonely Planet

Locals and visitors in Western Canada’s biggest metropolis will be able to sidestep rainy-day soakings after a homegrown umbrella share scheme expands into downtown Vancouver. Operating on the city’s University of British Columbia campus since 2015, UmbraCity is unfurling its handy hire-out brolly service via 20 city centre automated kiosks this winter.

“Umbrellas are often forgotten, broken or simply a hassle to drag along,” company founder Amir Entezari told local news and lifestyle publication Daily Hive. “Our goal is to ease your frustrations and provide you with a favourable solution on a rainy day.” Initially providing UBC students with protection against the wild ‘wet coast’ weather (Vancouver is nicknamed Rain City for a reason), the company’s smart solution proved so successful that expansion across the region – once the system was refined – seemed like a storm-avoiding no-brainer.

Operating like a public bike share scheme, UmbraCity’s touchscreen kiosks are easy to use. Consumers use a credit card and phone number to create an account (if they haven’t already) before sliding one of the sturdy bright-yellow brollies from the machine. Later, when the precipitation stops, you return it by sliding it back into your nearest kiosk. Price-wise, although the UBC kiosks charge CAD$2 per day up to a maximum of CAD$30, fees have yet to be set for the new downtown service. But other system features will remain: broken umbrellas are returnable free of charge while per-day fees apply for lost brollies until they are returned – up to the maximum credit card charge.

According to Entezari, once UmbraCity has smoothed out the wrinkles on its new downtown service, growing across the globe to other rain-soaked regions is the Vancouver company’s main goal. “This is the first of many expansions. We’re aiming to provide the world with a simple solution to those inconvenient rain worries,” he says.