Adelaide And Uber Are At War

The mudslinging in the Australian hire car/taxi business continues afresh, with Uber's limited rollout in Adelaide facing criticism from local politicians. Uber's not exactly sitting quietly on this score either.

Image: Michael Coghlan

South Australian Government Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis took to the airwaves on ABC Radio on Monday, decrying Uber's recent limited launch in Adelaide and stating that Uber was operating illegally in the state. He also took the familiar safety line that seems de rigueur for this particular debate, stating that "It's a very dangerous option to take an Uber service - you don't know who's driving the car. You don't know if the car has been checked and, most importantly, we can't know when you got into that car and where you got out of that car or where you were meant to go."

He's also flagged that compliance officers may pose as customers in order to catch Uber drivers out and fine them up to $8,000.

Uber has struck back with a retort that points out that it's using fully accredited drivers that have passed all South Australian licensing requirements and background checks, that Uber allows you or others to track your journey and that all vehicles meet the commercially registered hire car requirements.

But that's not all. It also goes on the attack on Tom Koutsantonis specifically, noting that he's no longer the Road Safety Minister after it was revealed that he'd committed 58 separate traffic offences and had his licence suspended as a result.


[SMH, Adelaide Advertiser and Uber]



    There are two levels of Uber.
    Uber Black is a hire car service whihc is legal a Vehicle Hirer licence
    and Uber white or X which is the illegal drive share, using anyone's car with anyone driving.
    That is what I would be worried about, we have the same issue her in Vic

      Actually, there are several levels of Uber - Sydney has Uber X, Uber Taxi, Uber Black, and Uber Lux.

      AFAIK the only service that is having issues with legislators is Uber X. I use Uber Taxi and Uber Black, and have never had any issues - in fact the whole experience is far better than any other service that I have used in Australia. Great service, driver ratings, GPS tracking, detailed invoices. Brilliant. I haven't, and won't use Uber X though, as IMO it is an insurance nightmare waiting to happen.

      There are three levels of Uber. Lets get that straight first.
      X, Black and Taxi. The later two are already legally operating commercially. The first isn't available in Adelaide.
      Uber is essentially just a booking and payment services much like what the cab companies offer themselves.

      UberX is far superior to regular taxis.
      The drivers? (shockingly) far more professional than your "professional" taxi driver.
      The cars? Far safer than normal taxis.

      Taxi drivers and companies do not care about you, the customer. They only care about your money, or more importantly money that will soon be theirs.
      I used to use taxis 10-20 a week, I remember only three in the last year that I would have thought were roadworthy. Too often cabs are not maintained or repaired until they are defected by the police and ordered off the road. Safe? I don't think so.

      Your statement of anyone being able to drive any car they feel like is simply not true.

      Last edited 27/08/14 1:13 pm

        One time a taxi drove me without his headlights on because his alternator was broken...
        I was assured not to worry and thats its perfectly safe because the roads are lit.

        Needless to say I got out as soon as I could, he had a cry that I refused to pay him anything and called the police who promptly ordered his car off the road and sent me on my way.

        Only to have the cab company harass me for a month threatening legal action and that the police would come to arrest me. Over $6, when my safety was in serious danger.

        Last edited 27/08/14 1:17 pm

          As a long time taxi driver that sounds absurd. Like you, I would have got out. If you actually travel the journey, it is my understanding that you are liable for the fare. I simply would not travel and would have taken his car number and reported him. It is illegal to drive without headlights at night.
          He was either stupid, 'full of shit' or both.

        There are a number of factors to consider in relation to the arrival of Uber as a competitor. I fan only authoritavely comment on Adelaide taxi industry, not any other city.
        1, cars cannot be older than six years old
        2, mandatory inspection of vehicles twice per annum
        3. Registration fees approx $6,000 per annum
        4. Insurance $6500 per annum.
        5 to lease a plat is about $550 per week
        6 maintenance required about every six weeks depending on kms travelled
        7. Base fees, not sure, use to he about $180 per week.
        9. All drivers must have police clearance
        10. All drivers just be trained and accredited.
        In the past, this has Ben an issue but has greatly improved.
        If the playing field is level, by all means enter the industry but not if the deck is stacked.
        Service varies but that is why there is already healthy competition between the three companies and the hire cars.
        Argue, by all means, but be accurate.
        I drive on Saturday nights only, have held a licence for decades since completing studies at Adelaide University.
        Like other experienced drivers I virtually never defer to the GPS and have excellent knowledge of Adelaide.
        In addition to the above, inspectors randomly check taxis for uniforms, cleanliness, road worthiness, licence, accreditation etc and heavy penalties apply for non compliance.

    I see them cracking down on uber, and just assume it's because the taxi companies (and private taxi owners) have a significant investment in taxi licences. Last i checked in qld, it was over $500k for a licence, and they only issue a certain number - thus ensuring the value of them.
    Uber kind of bypasses this... I'd say the taxi companies have a right to be outraged by it. They've been forced to pay for licences, so should anyone driving privately for uber.

    Want to harass the state transport minister about it? sure.. but do you really expect they will refund all the existing licences, and de-regulate the whole system?

      This is part of the issue but there are also massive insurance and rego costs ad well as half yearly inspections, weekly fees to central booking agencies, maintenance etc.

    Last time i got into a taxi i thought the driver was trying to kill me, i have never been as scared in my life. The driver nearly nearly rear ended three cars overtaking and nearly lost control going around a corner.

      Did you take the cab number and report it?
      There are reckless buggers out there driving cabs. They need to be reported to the police/ licencing agency (not the company). If passengers do not report, how do you expect things to improve. Whinging, complaining, story telling are easy. Positive action takes effort.

    Love (hate) the comments that just look like Uber marketing trying to flood their view on every article possible.

    The statements by Dre are just like the ones anti-vaxxers use to try and sell you their particular brand of bullshit.

    There is no evidence that Uber cars are safer than Taxis. There is no evidence that Uber drivers are safer than Taxi drivers. The anecdotal claims and 'viral' marketing are exactly what makes this sort of service untrustworthy and in need of a serious change of attitude.

      And how many Victorian Taxi drivers passed the recent test they had to take............1 wasn't it?
      And how many carried serious crime rape, drink driving, drug use, violence, etc? Quite a few apparently.
      So, there is no evidence to say Taxi's are safer than Uber cars either.

        I cannot comment on Vic but one has to have a high level police clearance here in SA. I think it is a good move failing so many potential taxi drivers. It will result in better quality all around. The accreditation process had varied over time in terms of what is acceptable and many of us in the industry have been critical of lowering the standards to simply get 'bums on seats'. This has moved significantly in the right direction but needs to go further.
        Who or what checks the quality of Uber drivers? Anecdotal evidence?
        If that is the case,I must be wonderful because I get tips and compliments every Saturday night ( and the odd person trying to rob or assault me).
        Quality control and high standards are imperative, but Uber is not the solution.

          The problem is that all a Police clearance says is, the guy hasn't been caught doing something illegal. Check how many of the taxi drivers who've been caught assaulting passengers and stuff. All/most had clear records before they got charged.

      I've been an UberX customer in brisbane for the last three months. Previously a heavy cab user, I now exclusively use Uber. While I don't have any "evidence" for you, I feel safer every time and I feel the vehicles are safer.

      1. I know the name of the driver, their face, ranking out of 5, and vehicle I will be getting into the moment I book the service. They see my name and face too.

      2. I jump into someone's clean, personal car which has not been on the road 20 hours every day.

      3. We are both aware for the duration of the journey that we will rank each other out of 5 stars at the end.

      4. When I jump out there's no exchange of money whatsoever; we both assume the other person has no cash on them.

      5. I get an email journey summary which shows a map of where we went from and to.

      I think you're confusing genuine goodwill from surprised and happy customers who are tired of awful cab services, and they're now getting something new and great. If your tin-foil hat tells you I'm an Uber employee or marketing anything, look me up on Facebook.

        .Some good points. The taxi industry can definitely lift its game.
        My main concern is the ability to undercut the costs because of unfair advantage. Look at the cost structure of running a cab. Even with excellent drivers, how can a cab compete?
        The rego fees, insurance, inspection fees, maintenance, licence fees, etc.
        An uneven field set by govt to protect passengers, particularly in the event of an accident.

      That is fine. I base my opinions on my own extensive personal experience.

      Ultimately I don't care for anecdotal "evidence" if it is completely disconnected from reality and my experience.

    Took my first Uber few weeks ago.
    Was in Syd for the weekend was going from Darling Harbour -> Airport
    Tax : $67
    Uber X : $26
    Uber Black : $66

    I obviously went with X.

      I took a Taxi on Wednesday from Waterloo to Alexandria.

      Two and a half hour wait, $17 to travel 2.6 kilometers, abusive taxi driver that told me to not be lazy and walk next time. I would have gladly walked if it wasn't pissing down with rain.

      Fast forward to Sunday afternoon and I used UberX which cost $11 to travel 3.7km. Driver arrived in about 8 minutes, courteous, no attitude about the short trip. Hell, he even offered us bottled water because it was a warm day!

      Cheaper, offered water, brand spanking new BMW 3 Series versus a abusive shit who thought the world owes him something.
      Did I mention the taxi tried to drive off with my luggage?

      There is no comparison, Uber at its cheapest level is light years ahead of regular taxis at every imaginable level.
      As a consumer why should I be forced to pay more for a worse service?

        You shouldn't. Report the driver, don't just be a whinger. I can tell you of the drunk and abusive passengers I have had in my cab over the years, of being attacked twice by violent people with a knife, of being set upon by three blokes on drugs. It happens. I have met many fantastic people but, some not so nice ones as well.
        Don't report to the taxi company. I think they do little. Report to the authority in your state that regulates and licences the taxis.

      I find it difficult how they made a decent amount on that once they took fuel and running costs into account. I am very familiar with the costs of running a taxi. When my wife and daughter both had cancer I quit my govt job and got a cab full time because of the flexibility it afforded me to deal with the family health issues. I did this for several years so I know what it costs to run a passenger vehicle 'over time'.
      $26 just does not add up.

    From a work perspective I love Uber because I have the company credit card loaded as a payment method meaning I no longer have to pay for trips myself and wait until the end of the month to claim the expenses.

    Given that my T&E budget comes out of my pre-comission GP$ and Uber charges a lower fee for credit cards means I have more money in my pocket each month.

      I agree with that. I have real issues with the amount charged by cab charge for transactions. As a driver, I explain to passengers the fees and encourage cash payments. I can still issue a receipt.

    The war will go on so long as there are profits to be made in Adelaide. The pre-commission an net fees are what really matters here imo.

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