LOVED and loathed ride-sharing app Uber will be on the table for debate when the Wagga Liquor Accord next meets, publican David Barnhill has revealed.
The app, which allows commuters to submit a trip request via their smartphone with an Uber driver who uses their own car, was earlier this month legalised in Canberra.
It is not available in Wagga, but Uber has flagged its intention to expand to regional areas in the future. And while currently illegal in NSW, it has not stopped commuters from using it – much to the fury of taxis.
But Wagga Liquor Accord secretary David Barnhill said he could see some positives in the service, believing it could help ease some of the transport problems by pub-goers wanting to get home on the weekend.
“If it helps keep people off the street, that is a positive,” he said.
“It would go pretty well here if it did do that … competition is good for anything.”
Mr Barnhill said the accord was yet to determine an official position on the app, but it would be on the agenda at its next meeting.
Wagga hotels are likely caught between a rock and a hard place as they straddle the demands of patrons, but also remain loyal to local taxis, who are supportive of venues.
Wagga Radio Cabs spokesman John Patton believes Uber “throws private enterprise out the door”.
“The problem I have with Uber is you don’t know who you’re getting into the car with,” he said. “With cabs, we’ve got to train the drivers, we’ve got to police check them, education check them, we have to pay for all sorts of things. Uber pays no one.”
Wagga taxis have in recent years weathered tough economic conditions. Weekday call-outs have declined, but weekend demand has remained a key advantage for the industry.
Taxi drivers earlier this year said the introduction of Uber would “decimate” the industry in Wagga.
However, NRMA western director Fiona Simson said commuters deserved flexibility – but taxis needed a level playing field as well.
“We haven’t got anything against Uber for offering that service,” she said.
“We want transport services that are efficient and reliable, but Uber needs to be subject to the same regulations so commuters can have confidence in the public transport they are offering.”
Wagga MP Daryl Maguire said a state government inquiry would recommend on future changes.
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