In just over a year, Uber has taken the Adelaide transport scene by storm. Then again, the bar wasn’t set very high to begin with. Regardless, Uber has proven to be quite a preferable way to get around. It’s easy, quick and actually pretty enjoyable. However, some people aren’t so keen on the service. There has been quite a bit of controversy around the country in reaction to Uber, particularly from transport ministers and taxi authorities.
Uber is currently operating in 290 cities worldwide, with a few different services; UberBlack, UberX, UberPOOL and more. Uber Black, which currently operates legally here in Adelaide, is where you can book a ride with only accredited hire cars with chauffers licences. UberX, which operates in Sydney and Melbourne, is where average Joe (with a few conditions) can be an Uber driver.
The main source of objection stems from the taxi authorities. Basically, they’re not happy that their business is being taken from a company that doesn’t have the same expenses as them (Taxis pay quite a bit of money for their plates, their security fitouts etc). Uber Black drivers don’t pay such fees, and do not have to have their cars fitted with things like cameras.
Though there is a pretty obvious reason why so many people are leaving taxis behind for Uber. Taxis can be an expensive way to get around as it is, so it’s not that people have a problem with the money - it’s the quality. One of the most common reasons for people using Uber in favour of taxis is because of the quality and enjoyment of the service is better. The car is clean and has a pleasant odour and the drivers are polite and accommodating. For what can sometimes only a dollar or two more, and in many cases cheaper, what’s not to love?
The experience of being on hold for a taxi for more than 15 minutes, being promised that your call is next, only to be hung up on, is familiar. So is the experience of waiting half an hour for a taxi, or having one rock up and not wait more than a minute for you to come out. Uber lets you see the cars in your area that are available, and your ride won’t leave if you still take a few minutes to get ready. The service is App based, so you order and pay for your ride from the comfort of your smart phone world.
If UberX is to be legalized in Adelaide, things would only get better. Don’t let people tell you that it’s dangerous, there is a lot of accountability for being an UberX driver. For example, you have to have a clean driving record, a safe car, any passenger can see your name and photo before they get in, and your vehicle is tracked with GPS. After trips, passengers and drivers rate each other, and anyone with a consistently low rating can no longer use the service. They’ve thought of everything. Every UberX trip has insurance liability, so you’re not just being thrown into the deep end – Uber wouldn’t be such a big company if they glossed over those details.
Uber cars aren’t pulling into taxi ranks, or lining up outside clubs on Saturday nights. They appear for customers when they want them, so this is a pretty big point about consumer demand. Instead of demonizing this progressive and innovative company, opposition should just try and do it better.
Is this just yet another concept where Adelaide is going to be 5 years behind? Is this another episode of Adelaide The Nanny State? In the technology revolution we’re currently seeing, advances that make traditional modes obsolete shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Get around it, SA. You’re going to eventually.