Recently, ridesharing company Uber has been featured in the press for all the wrong reasons – tax evasion, assault claims, and a drastic increase of charges during the Sydney siege emergency.
Yet, Uber’s business is thriving and more customers than ever are opting in to the rideshare service. In November 2014, Uber reportedly created 1,100 jobs.
Dr Nicole Hartley is a Marketing Lecturer at UQ Business School. Dr Hartley believes that Uber’s ongoing success can be attributed to its benefits for consumers – and employees.
“Uber is a very attractive offering for both potential drivers and customers. For drivers, Uber offers individuals the opportunity to earn money, or supplement their income, via a means that is a part of their everyday way of living – driving a car.
“The company also, and most significantly, bypass the normal legislative requirements for drivers in terms of investments of time and money in licensing and driver registration arrangements. Hence, the investment of time and money for potential drivers is significantly reduced.
“For customers it's purely coming down to convenience and value – two driving forces for consumers. Consumers can now use their smart devices to access timely and affordable transport,” Dr Hartley said.
Dr Hartley thinks that Uber may change Australia’s view on private rides as a regular mode of transport.
“For years, consumers have hesitated away from truly embracing taxi organisations as a key source of transportation due to the expense and inconsistent accessibility to the service.
“Taxi services have always been a more expensive option for commuters than their own vehicles and public transport but now Uber is making this market much more affordable.
“Furthermore, the value system for Australia and what it means to be an Australian, centres upon 'mateship' and the Uber model is a brilliant working example of this. Mates, be them strangers, helping other mates out by driving them to where they need to be,” she said.
The Taxi Council of Queensland (TCQ) have launched a campaign aimed at taking down Uber under the slogan “Don't risk your life - rideshare apps are unlawful, unsafe and uninsured.”
In Boston, recent allegations of Uber drivers assaulting passengers have flooded the press. Yet, Dr Hartley doesn’t think these negatives have deterred Australian customers.
“While these instances can never be viewed in a positive light, so far they have failed to have a negative impact upon the uptake of Uber services. For every instance of driver misconduct for Uber there appears to be seven times as many stories pertaining to registered taxi drivers that consumers have been sharing in forums and through social media.
“Consumers are aware of potential issues with drivers, it comes with the territory, but they also are aware that Uber is being responsive to these claims,” Dr Hartley said.
Uber received a cease and desist notice from the Queensland Government earlier this year, yet is continuing to operate. The future of ridesharing seems uncertain.
It is however, clear that Queenslanders are welcoming competition to traditional private transport.