A Warrnambool taxi owner-driver says cabbies could lose their jobs following the arrival of Uber in the city, with fears there won’t be enough work to go around.
13CABS driver Ron Visser said the arrival of the ride-sharing service in Warrnambool last week could jeopardise taxi drivers’ livelihoods.
“It could affect jobs because if it’s going to be really successful and a lot of people use it, then we might have to lay people off because we can’t generate the income we normally would,” Mr Visser said.
He said he was aware of taxis being unable to meet demand at peak times including Saturday nights, before Uber’s arrival, but a lack of drivers contributed to the problem.
“We’ve advertised for drivers in The Standard and on Facebook and you get one guy turning up,” he said.
“We went to (employment and recruitment firm) WDEA, they have 800 people on the list looking for a job, no-one’s really interested. It’s a bit strange now that all of a sudden people want to be an Uber driver.
“Uber is much easier to step in to, maybe that’s the attraction.”
State guidelines say vehicles must meet the same basic safety requirements of passenger vehicles. It states that every taxi and hire car (including rideshare) driver has to pass a police, medical and driving history check, and is subject to ongoing criminal data matching.
“All companies are now responsible for safety and service delivery and need to be accredited by Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria (CPVV). They need to have effective processes in place for dealing with safety issues, customer complaints and service quality concerns. They also need to protect the privacy of passengers and drivers when bookings are taken. Vehicles engaging in rank and hail work will need to meet additional requirements such as installing cameras to reflect the anonymous nature of rank and hail work,” it said.
Mr Visser said young people on Friday and Saturday nights were bound to use Uber but he was confident loyal customers would continue to catch taxis, including the elderly and those with a half-price taxi card.
He hopes residents will continue to support the city’s two cab companies who have been here for the long haul, providing income for local people and the region’s economy.
“We’re looking at putting more cars on the road but you have to make sure that there will be enough income for it,” he said.
“It’s no good putting a car on the road and thinking ‘I wonder how lucky we’re going to get’. It doesn’t work that way.”
He said some south-west drivers had bought taxi licenses at an average cost of $300,000 before the Victorian government taxi license buyback scheme which was part of ride-share reforms.
“We got a refund from the government for $50,000. We’re still paying off a loan now for something which is worth nothing anymore.”
An Uber spokeswoman said it was humbled by the positive response.
“Since launching last week, we have several drivers who are signed up and have gone through our background checks and accreditation process,” she said.
“All Uber driver-partners must undergo a screening process including criminal background and driving history checks before they can use the app, and all trips are GPS tracked and insured.”
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