Daniel Bateman, The Cairns Post
February 15, 2017 4:40pm
IT will be business as usual for Cairns’ taxi drivers when Uber launches in the Far North next month, but some cabbies may jump ship to join the competition.
Uber has announced that it will be starting its ridesharing services in Cairns and Townsville on March 16, bringing it into direct competition with the taxi industries in both cities.
The Californian company estimates a trip through its ride-hailing app from Cairns’ city centre to the airport will be about $12 — half of a taxi fare.
Cairns Taxis chairman Layne Gardiner said the company would concentrate on providing the same current high standard of service.
“That’s what we’ll continue on doing,” he said
“We won’t be changing anything.
“We won’t be dropping our prices.
“We’ll just be giving our same level of service, and it’s a safer service, because we’ve got cameras in every taxi.
“And we’ve got GPS units to track wherever you are.”
The Palaszczuk Government legalised ridesharing services, such as Uber, in September last year, despite massive opposition from the state’s taxi industry.
In anticipation of the competition entering the local market, Cairns Taxis in 2015 launched a “charm offensive”, ordering its drivers to ensure they kept their service, vehicles and uniforms at the highest standard to ensure customer loyalty.
Taxi driver Graeme Leopold-Wooldridge, who has been driving a cab in Cairns for 22 years, believed Cairns Taxis would still deliver a better service than Uber.
“I think people will give Uber a go: people give anything a go,” he said.
“But over a longer period of time, this taxi company has delivered well for the community.
“It’s a good service.
“I hear complaints about some drivers, but I think it’s a bit hard to beat the service that exists here.”
He believed some local cabbies may choose to work for Uber with the company offering more flexible working hours.
However, Mr Gardiner warned potential Uber drivers to be cautious about the salary.
According to financial website Finder.com.au, Australian Uber drivers make 75 per cent of their weekly fare total, earning an average income of $35-40 an hour before Uber takes a 25 per cent cut.
“You’ve got to make sure you can actually make a living out of it,” Mr Gardiner said.
“Out of a $15 fare to the airport, you lose 25 (per cent) commission that goes out of the country.”