As Uber wrangles with local governments around the world, it has racked up a string of victories across Canada with some form of legalization in Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa in recent weeks. They can now add South Australia and Adelaide to that list with an announcement today that will clear the way both for the Uber empire and for Sydney-based taxi and ride-hailing app GoCatch.
Local taxi companies tried and failed to block legalization, as has happened in several other countries.
“We welcome the government’s recognition that there is an overdue need for reform of the point to point transport industry in South Australia and that services like ridesharing need to be welcomed to the state,” Uber Adelaide’s general manager, Tom White, told Gizmodo.
While Uber has earned itself an infamous reputation for refusing to stop operations despite city regulations, GoCatch has been adamant it would not expand its non-taxi business, GoCar, in any town until it was legalized there.
The service itself is brand new, having only launched in mid-February. They claim better driver rates and do not use surge pricing.
“This move will enable greater choice and convenience for passengers looking to get from A to B and create new opportunities for drivers to supplement their income,” said GoCatch and GoCar CEO Ned Moorfield, notes iTwire.
When contacted by Geektime, Moorfield added that while he isn’t sure what sort of demand Adelaide will have since there has been no rideshare service there until now, “we have seen strong demand in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.”
GoCatch has been working with taxi drivers in a manner similar to Gett in Israel and the U.K. Its ‘civilian’ service GoCar went online in Sydney after New South Wales legalized the practice in late 2015. Ingogo has also been prolific in Australia networking with local taxis. NetCABS will debut its own booking app, Oiii, sometime before the summer.
“We are glad to be able to extend the same level of service that we offer our customers in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth to travelers in Adelaide,” Ingogo founder and CEO Hamish Petrie was quoted as saying by Adelaide Now.
South Australian cabbies to see compensation
There are 1,035 vehicles that hold taxi licenses and 102 with “access cab licenses” in South Australia, according to iTwire. The state plans a massive $60 million compensation package for traditional cabs. As has been suggested in other cities worldwide, a $1 tax will be added to every ride picked up by services like Uber and GoCar in order to compensate losses to established, licensed taxi drivers.
The Sydney Morning Herald describes the details as $30,000 per taxi license, $50 per week compensation payments for a max of 11 months, and a freeze on new taxi licenses in the state for the next five years. The latter concession might be irrelevant though, depending on how popular ridesharing becomes.
Uber: Thanks, I guess
It remains to be seen if UberX will officially set up shop in Adelaide, but Uber isn’t one to shy away from a full-on battle with local competition. UberBLACK Adelaide is already off the ground, so expect the company’s main service to touch down as well.
As they met legalization with caveats in cities like Calgary and Edmonton, they talked down the manner in which South Australia legalized the service.
“South Australians who need access to flexible paid work should be able to do so without paying hundreds of dollars in fees or waiting months for their application to be processed,” Uber Adelaide’s general manager, Tom White, told Gizmodo.
Australia’s collection of taxi and ridesharing apps stand in contrast to the localized ones in places like Canada, where TappCar in Edmonton and Teo in Montreal have the gargantuan task of competing with Uber. Lyft (U.S.), Didi Kuaidi (China), Ola Cabs (India) and GrabTaxi (Singapore, Southeast Asia) have entered into a four-way partnership to allow customers in each country to book rides without downloading another app. Didi Kuaidi recently confided in Geektime that the consortium does not have any new partnerships in the pipeline, but the network is open for new partners.