UBER’s entry into the Orange market was considered inevitable, according to the city’s taxi drivers as they steel themselves for competition.
The company behind the ridesharing app announced on Monday it was preparing to launch in Orange, Bathurst and four other NSW locations in early December, subject to signing on enough drivers.
Taxi Cabs of Orange Darryl Curran said Uber would come to Orange sooner than he had expected.
“We knew it was going to happen but we don’t expect much to change really,” he said.
During the food and wine festivals, there’s been more demand for point-to-point than supply in the area.Uber’s head of cities across Australia and New Zealand, Natalie Malligan
Mr Curran welcomed the competition, saying while taxis would take a hit in the first few weeks, he was confident patrons would remain loyal in the long run.
“Our average pick-up time is five minutes, I’m confident Uber won’t be able to match that,” he said.
He said Orange Taxis also had an app, which allowed passengers to track their vehicles and access an estimate of their fare in advance.
Uber’s head of cities across Australia and New Zealand, Natalie Malligan, said demand was assessed based on the number of people accessing the Uber app from Orange and not being able to access one.
“We’ve had tens of thousands of people opening the app,” she said.
“During the food and wine festivals, there’s been more demand for point-to-point than supply in the area.”
Ms Malligan said prospective drivers were now able to sign up via the website or driver’s app and go through the required checks.
Recent studies have revealed many Uber drivers have not been able to earn the average $16 an hour, which Ms Malligan said Uber was addressing by advising drivers on the best times to work.
“We’re trying to maintain the flexibility but also to help drivers make better-informed decisions,” she said.
With several drivers reporting assaults, Ms Malligan said the emergency assistance button feature added to the app earlier this month worked for both passengers and drivers.
“If they feel unsafe, they can hit that button and notify emergency services, as well as our 24/7 response team,” she said.
With the Australian Tax Office chasing up Uber drivers on unpaid income and reforms on insurance, Mr Curran said the system was becoming fairer, although it was still not yet a level playing field as taxi drivers had paid high prices for their cabs.
The other NSW locations will be Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga.
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