Uber will soon expand to regional areas including Gladstone and Rockhampton.
Uber will soon expand to regional areas including Gladstone and Rockhampton. Eric Risberg

Taxi company has doubts over Uber viability

RIDE-sharing giant Uber will soon expand into regional Australia with plans to have cars driving in Gladstone before Christmas.

Uber expects to launch its service in Gladstone, Rockhampton, Mackay, Bundaberg and Hervey Bay.

The company will also launch in regional towns across Victoria and New South Wales.

While the service is popular in major cities, there are doubts it will be viable in a regional centre such as Gladstone.

Uber Queensland state manager Alex Golden said the Uber's arrival would provide residents an alternative form of transport and potential job opportunities.

"More than 3.8 million Australians already use Uber to get around their city, and we're excited to bring ride-sharing to some of Queensland's regional areas," Mr Golden said.

"We're confident that this will provide a new way for locals to get from A to B safely and affordably. This also presents a great opportunity for members of the community who want to sign up to earn some extra money, while maintaining flexibility."

Mr Golden expected the service to be its busiest on weekends and during major events.

Allan Rowe, chairman of Blue and White Taxis Gladstone that has been operating in Gladstone since 1983, isn't convinced Uber will work in Gladstone.

 

Blue and White Taxis chairman Allan Rowe pictured in 2016.
Blue and White Taxis chairman Allan Rowe pictured in 2016. Declan Cooley

"In the current climate, one word - no," Mr Rowe said.

"They could go out the door in 10 minutes... We've had three (ride-sharing services) here and they've all gone out the back door. It's a tough land at the moment, particularly in Queensland country. There's not the scope here for another two or three people."

Mr Rowe isn't afraid of the competition but would like to see an even playing field.

"We've never shied away from competition in Gladstone but what we're saying is the government should put everyone on an even keel paying the same registration, the same insurances and the same safety concerns for the general public," he said.

"The overheads of maintaining a vehicle is becoming prohibited - with us for a normal taxi out on the road we pay over $6500 just in registration.

"People need to understand that each taxi doesn't belong to Blue and White. We are the operating company, but each of those taxis is a small business run by small business owners who spend their money in Gladstone.

"Blue and White Taxis will be here, we will continue to operate and our main thrust isn't about corporate business, it's about the people of Gladstone."



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