Tweed Daily News reporter Alina Rylko catches a Uber taxi in Tweed Heads. Photo: John Gass / Tweed Daily News
Tweed Daily News reporter Alina Rylko catches a Uber taxi in Tweed Heads. Photo: John Gass / Tweed Daily News John Gass

Drivers make a motza as Uber app hits home

IF YOU'VE been to London, New Delhi or New York lately, you would have used Uber.

As of two weeks ago the smart phone app officially hit the Tweed.

Uber allows people to locate the nearest "cab" using GPS, but unlike commercial fleets, Uber cars are operated by regular motorists, potentially turning every car on the road into a cab, and also a nice little money-spinner.

It is cheaper - $1.30 per km versus Brisbane Cabs' $2 - and offers perks such as split-fares and free ride promotions.

The Tweed Daily News road-tested the service this week.

First, the Uber App was downloaded from the App store onto an iPhone. This took much longer than expected because the phone needed a much-overdue software update to run the app. Then an Uber account was verified using Facebook and an SMS code.

At first, an 'Uberx' was not available to the Tweed Heads South office, then, later in the day, a cab appeared on the map, "within 15 minutes". I later learnt that it's policy that every Uber car is within a 15-minute radius of a passenger.

A click on the car revealed a brief profile of the "cab" - the make of car, who the driver is and their star rank.

Rating 4.9 out of five stars, almost certainly guaranteed the driver was not an axe murderer, and in a second click the cab was booked, the GPS tracking its arrival.

Driver "Aaron" had a well-maintained blue Holden V6, and said he was a full-time teacher who has only been using Uber for two weeks, earning $600 for "mortgage repayments".

"People love it, once they use it. My car is nice and clean and I arrive quickly," he said.

"The benefits for the driver are that I can start and end whenever I feel like it and there's no jurisdiction on where I can work."

This is a major problem for Tweed Coolangatta Taxis who cannot pick up in Queensland, unless it's from one of the three gazetted cross-border ranks.

The Uber app has boomed in popularity across the world, with the company worth $A48billion, but laws have lagged behind its technological uptake.

In many jurisdictions, laws surrounding Uber driver payments, taxation, commercial competition and industry regulation have left private drivers eager to make extra cash in a legal vacuum, and passengers uninsured in an accident.

Australia is no exception. Uber has manoeuvred through legal loopholes by paying drivers through an "app fee" instead of a business transaction.

 

UBER TEST DRIVE

PROS: Cheaper and cleaner than a cab

CONS: Unregulated industry, with no ABN numbers, meaning you can't claim an Uber as a business expense.



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