A new report detailing Uber’s impact in Australia has placed further pressure on state governments to act now or risk falling behind on innovation, the ride-sharing giant’s regional head David Rohrsheim says.
The report by Deloitte, commissioned by Uber, was released on Monday and examines the impact of the platform on “drivers, regulators, traditional businesses and consumers”.
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It finds that while ride-sharing only accounted for 6% of the total point-to-point transport market in August last year, the use of Uber is growing rapidly.
Since its launch two years ago, the study says there have been 10 million UberX rides in Australia, with 1.2 million of these coming in August alone.
The Deloitte study says there has been an overall net benefit of $81 million per year for Australia consumers in terms of price and service differences.
“We were telling the world it would be good news for riders, drivers and cities, and it’s nice to have someone review the results of that promise,” Rohrsheim tells StartupSmart.
“The most significant finding is that we are creating new trips – we’re growing the pipe. These are trips that otherwise wouldn’t happen.”
A test for governments
Rohrsheim says Uber provides an important test for state governments.
“It’s something governments can’t ignore,” he says. “Some, it could be argued, are ignoring it.
“This is another reason for them to start paying more attention and to react rather than pretend it’s not happening.
“We’ve been asking for regulation from day one. It’s an important test for government on how quickly they understand it and react to it – is their policy to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ by default?
“States that get a track record of adapting quicker will send a strong signal to entrepreneurs and investors that they walk the talk on innovation. New South Wales and the ACT have put themselves at the top of the list for embracing innovation when it arrives.
“All eyes are on the rest of the states.”
Uber has been officially legalised and regulated in New South Wales and the ACT, with both governments providing a compensation package to the taxi industry.
Rohrsheim, who was in Melbourne to launch the report, says a key reason Uber has yet to be regulated in Victoria is the state government trying to legalise the service and improve the taxi industry at the same time.
“There’s a long, long list of documented shortcomings in that industry and it’s absolutely something worth tackling, but it’s complex,” he says.
“It’s an old industry that isn’t easy to fix overnight.
“But that doesn’t mean you can’t say yes to ride-sharing in the mean tine – they don’t need to be coupled together.
“That’s what’s holding faster reform back.”
“We’re just getting started”
There are now 13,000 active Uber drivers in Australia according to the study, with $260 million in fares collected per year.
But Rohrsheim says Uber has lofty plans to grow in Australia.
“There are plenty of opportunities left in this,” he says.
“We always look at a city like Sydney or Melbourne, where there are millions of cars on the road and thousands are signed up to Uber.
“That’s an enormous untapped opportunity to make better use of resources.
“It still feels like just the beginning for us.”
Plans for 2016
This year will see Uber expand further across Australia, especially outside of the major cities, Rohrsheim says.
“You’ll definitely see us in more regional areas,” Rohrsheim says.
“We’re very excited to bring a transport solution to cities that just don’t have one.”
It’ll also see the introduction of new features, including UberPool, where users can splits fares with others travelling in a similar direction.
“That’s something we’re very, very excited about,” Rohrsheim says.
“It’s live in 15 cities around the world and will be in some Australian cities later this year.”