You can order a cab through Uber now

In a remarkable shift from past hostility, Uber is now incorporating taxis into its platform in Melbourne and other Victorian locations, signalling a significant evolution in Australia’s transportation landscape. This move marks a departure from Uber’s 2014 Australian debut, which sparked protests and strikes from taxi drivers.

Uber’s Australian chief executive, Dom Taylor, emphasises the benefits of this partnership, noting how it aligns with similar collaborations in cities like New York, LA, and various Asian locations. He assures that enough Melbourne taxi drivers have joined to ensure service availability from Wednesday. This integration allows Uber users to book taxis, offering them more options and enabling taxi drivers to use transit lanes, potentially increasing their earnings. In San Francisco, taxi drivers using Uber reportedly earned 23.8% more than those not on the platform.

This collaboration is part of a broader strategy to launch Uber taxi products across Australia, with Victoria being the initial focus. Uber’s approach includes a fare structure where taxis booked through the app cost around 1.2 times the rate of UberX, with Uber taking a 25% commission plus GST.

However, this development has met with skepticism from some in the taxi industry. A spokesperson for 13Cabs expressed concerns about customer safety and service quality, questioning the feasibility of integrating ride-share and taxi services due to differing operational platforms. This skepticism extends to the financial aspect, with a perception that Uber is attempting to offload less desirable work onto taxis while profiting from their fares.

Rod Barton, a former taxi operator and politician, criticizes Uber’s market impact, arguing for regulatory scrutiny over its dominant position and treatment of workers. He views this move as potentially damaging to the taxi industry.

Neil Snipe, a planning professor at the University of Queensland, interprets Uber’s strategy as an adaptation to its initial inability to eliminate the taxi industry. By partnering with taxis, Uber avoids expanding its contractor base while profiting from taxi rides, effectively becoming a comprehensive transportation service provider. This strategy, likened to Uber’s ambition to be the “Amazon of transportation,” reflects a significant shift in the company’s approach to market dominance and collaboration.

Source: The Age