23rd September, 2021
Cab drivers will soon have the chance to moonlight as Uber drivers, as Australia’s biggest taxi company enters the ride share game.
13cabs is rolling out a bespoke transport service, which will see verified taxi drivers use a registered second vehicle for ride sharing.
The private hire cars will be marketed under the name ‘13’ and are being introduced to meet an expected surge in customers after lockdowns end.
With more than 10,000 drivers in its existing fleet, 13cabs expects to have a large, ready-made pool of vehicles to source from.
“This move is designed to break down regulatory barriers to achieve a level playing field with rideshare companies, who, unlike us, do not need a taxi licence to operate and can add cars to their fleet as they please,” 13cabs Chief Operating Officer Stuart Overell said.
“We understand a massive 51 per cent of Uber’s revenues earned in Australia goes overseas, but all our profit stays in Australia.
“In some states like Queensland, no new taxi licences have been released since 2009, which has led to long waits to be picked up for a vehicle, particularly in tourist areas and regional towns.”
Passengers will be able to book existing 13cabs drivers via the app or contact centre, but they cannot hail them off the street.
The cars will be branded ‘13’ for easy identification and will include a number of security systems as well as trained and uniformed drivers.
All drivers will be vaccinated against Covid-19.
“The number one message from our research is please put more cars on the road,” Mr Overell said.
“In today’s fast moving society people do not want to wait; and more importantly, we have young people, particularly women, say they can feel unsafe waiting for a car, especially if they have to wait on the road late at night.”
The service, which was trialled successfully in Victoria, will start operating in a few weeks.
Gold Coast driver Tarsem Singh welcomed the move ahead of easing restrictions around the “peak tourism season”.
“Last Christmas was the busiest season I have seen in six years. Sometimes at the end of my shift I have to lock the door to stop people jumping in,” he said.
“We need more cars on the road, and allowing 13cabs operators to run a second vehicle will help them expand and service more customers.”
Taxi licences are currently regulated in every state apart from Victoria and Western Australia, with NSW moving towards deregulation.
The bold move comes after Uber was hit with more than $200,000 in fines in August for not reporting performance issues to the NSW regulator.
An audit by the NSW Point to Point Transport Commissioner Anthony Wing found that over a two-week period, 37 per cent of Uber’s drivers had worked more than 12 hours continuously, with some as many as 17 hours per shift.
Over a six-month period, multiple complaints were registered against more than 50 drivers for using mobile phones or being “drowsy”, but they were able to remain active on the platform.
An Uber representative said the vast majority of the fines were the result of notifiable occurrences that the company “proactively identified” and reported to the regulator following an internal audit.
“Safety is our number one priority and we are committed to ensuring we have robust policies, processes and cutting edge features built into our technology to support the safety of everyone who uses our app,” an Uber spokesperson said.
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