REVEALED: Uber finally set to rev up in Rocky streets
UBER has announced it will launch its ride-sharing app in Rockhampton before Christmas in a win for consumers but a blow for local taxi firms who say it will cost jobs.
The move, targeting an additional 1.3 million Australians, will see Uber cars hit the road in 15 new cities across regional Australia including Bundaberg, Gladstone, Hervey Bay and Mackay from early December.
This year alone, Uber says it has seen more than 280,000 people in these 15 cities open the app seeking a ride.
Uber said it has selected new cities based on where demand for trips is high, and where ride-sharing can complement existing transport options.
Alex Golden, Queensland State Manager at Uber, said the company was excited to bring ridesharing to some of Queensland's regional areas.
"We're confident that this will provide a new way for locals to get from A to B safely and affordably," he said.
"This also presents a great opportunity for members of the community who want to sign up to earn some extra money, while maintaining flexibility.
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"With Uber, you can choose to drive when it suits you, and we hope this will be a welcome option for many.
"In our experience in other cities, we expect the app will be busiest on weekends and during major events."
Bill Parker, general manager of Yellow Cabs Australia which operates in Rockhampton, said he welcomed the competition but Uber was operating with an unfair advantage.
"There is nothing wrong with competition but it needs to be on a level playing field," Mr Parker said.
"You hear pollies talk about the free market economy but cab companies employ people who pay tax in Australia and that money stays in Australia.
"It doesn't go offshore.
"The travelling public also needs to understand that cab fleets offer a very good service.
"If you want to cab at 2am in Rocky on Saturday morning, we will be there but with Uber the drivers get to pick and choose jobs when it suits them."
Mr Parker said the arrival of Uber would hurt local cab firms in regional Queensland.
"It will put drivers out of work in places like Rockhampton, where we currently employ about 120 drivers" he said.
Uber will hold town hall meetings over the next month to sign up and process new drivers in Rockhampton.
Uber launched in Australia in November 2012 and now operates in 23 towns, including all capital cities, serving more than 3.8 million Australians.