Weighing in on the ongoing UberX vs taxi debate, consumer advocacy group CHOICE today released the results of a report that pits both services against each other. Looking at factors like price, reliability and safety, CHOICE came out with a clear winner that will be entirely unsurprising to anyone living in the 21st century. UberX was found to be just as safe and reliable as your average taxi, and on average came out to be 40% cheaper.
CHOICE's research was conducted over a total of 56 trips across Sydney — 28 in taxis and 28 with Uber, taken in pairs and at several different times of the day. Part of the report also focussed on the safety features each service has in place for the passenger. With the NSW Taxi Council recently spreading claims that ride sharing services like UberX were 'no safer than hitch-hiking' — even going so far as to call strikes across the country with calls for the Government to ban the service — CHOICE's findings easily debunk this myth, finding that UberX and taxis were roughly equal in the range of safety features they utilised.
Taxis are not losing out entirely, however. They came out on top of Uber in terms of convenience, for the ability to hail one straight off the street without the need to book. Yet when it did come to booking, sorry taxis: Uber wins again. Taxis tended to turn up later when booked than Uber drivers did — with booked taxis failing to turn up at all on two occasions. “Part of the problem may be that taxi drivers are told the passenger’s destination, which may make short trips less attractive. Uber drivers on the other hand aren't given your destination until they turn up," says CHOICE Director of Campaigns and Communications Matt Levey.
Overall, the report points to the conclusion that Uber is a much needed entrant in an industry that previously had very little competition. While they agree that legislation in this area should be changed, banning Uber — as the Taxi Council suggests — would only raise costs for consumers. "“Obviously regulations should apply equally to taxi services and to UberX - but the point of regulating should be to protect consumers and encourage competition in the market, not to protect one particular business from its competitors," Mr Levey continues. "The current restrictions on taxi licences benefit the taxi industry and raise costs for consumers. We believe easing the restrictions would promote competition and ultimately be good for consumers.”