Would you drive or use an Uber? 46



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I’m a big fan of Uber.  I use it when I travel, I use it when I’m home and need to go out, and I use it to get to business meetings.  I have only been using it for about 6 months or so, and in that time I can assure you that I have not only saved an awful lot of money in taxis, I have also had a lot of terrific experiences talking to the drivers, many of whom are over 60s.  And I have to ask you today how many of you would consider driving for Uber as a job opportunity?

As I said above, I’ve met plenty of over 60 Uber drivers who are enjoying the opportunity to work and earn money in a more flexible way than they might have been able to in a retail or corporate job.  Each time I meet someone I end up in long engrossed conversations about why they do it and how much they enjoy it.

So depending on whether you are interested in riding in an Uber or driving for an Uber, I want to talk about it today…  Have you been in an Uber as a passenger or driven one as a driver?  Tell us about your experience.

When I raise the subject of Uber, many of my friends looked at me and said “What’s Uber?” and so today, I want to give you a deeper look into the application, the convenience and the controversy around this not-so-new way of booking cars and getting from A to B.  It is something every over 60 should know about in my opinion, if only for the convenience and cost effectiveness of the offering and certainly for the flexibility of the job offering it allows for.

But the one big thing you should note is that to use Uber you need to download the ap and set up your credit card, and it is easier to do this when you aren’t in a rush trying to get a taxi somewhere…

Have you downloaded Uber? Here’s a link you can download it on and set it up so the next time you contemplate a taxi, all the hard work is done.


More about Uber

Uber is an online booking system for hire cars and cabs that can be used from your mobile phone, table or PC whenever you need one and it charges the ride straight back to your credit card or paypal account.  It is very convenient as when you log on to book a cab and to be assured of it turning up.   In a large city you can see the cars near you driving around, and see how far they are away from you as you book.  Rarely is a car more than 10-15 minutes away, meaning that you can quickly find a car that can come to your needs.

uber-ride shareHow does it work?

When you book a car using the Uber app on your smartphone, you are immediately sent the car registration, the driver’s name and you can then watch it via live technology as it heads towards where you are.  It certainly saves the problem I had recently in Melbourne when I called a taxi four times and one never ever came, as I stood by the side of the road and eventually missed my planned appointment.

Uber is upsetting many

It is worth noting that Uber is upsetting a lot of people in the world.  According to a dear friend of mine whose families are in taxis, a Taxi license in Queensland costs about $650,000.  That is, the owner of a taxi pays $650,000 to the Taxi company to buy a car in their fleet and that fleet pays a proportion of that money to the government to meet their regulation requirements.  That’s quite a bit of money.

Driving for Uber

In contrast, an Uber car is really just a driver of a car (any car) that is less than one year old with comprehensive insurance, a valid drivers license and a background check.  Anyone who meets these standards can drive for Uber.  At the time of writing, in most Australian cities, Uber drivers are currently guaranteed at least $30/hour in fares during peak hours and more interesting than that is the fact that you can pick your own hours and drive when it suits you.

Uber Vehicles

An Uber car is not a signed taxi-like vehicle.  In fact, there is two levels of vehicle you can choose from in most cities with Uber.  Uber Black and Uber X, and you need to take care when you book to ensure you get the one you planned.  My first Uber ride was in an Uber Black – largely because I didn’t know the difference and in my haste to try it out, I clicked on the first car on the screen.  Uber Black is a limosine style vehicle or “hire car”.  The car I got into was a top of the range black prius with a impeccable black leather interior.  The driver took pride in his car, his presentation and his service.  He was very friendly, and made sure I had a memorable first Uber experience.  In fact, I must commend him.  But it wasn’t hugely cheap like I has been led to believe about Uber – that is because of my selection of car type.

Uber first launched with only cars that fit the standard of Uber Black, before launching the ride sharing offering by normal cars and normal drivers in 2012 called Uber X.

An Uber X can be any type of car, driven by any qualified driver with an acceptable vehicle. They are priced very competitively with taxis, largely due to the lack of regulation and so it makes travelling in a vehicle from A to B without driving yourself very cost effective.  Rather than calling Uber a taxi service, people call it ride-sharing, but frankly, there is not much difference to the old “Mini-cab” from London, a phenomenon that has been around for a long long time… except that it is properly linked up online, through a clever and instantly manageable interface, and drivers can be tracked.  From a pricing perspective, uber’s charges are globally benchmarked.  In some cities, if the Uber car is travelling at a speed greater than 18 km/h, the price is calculated on a distance basis, otherwise, the price is calculated on a time basis.

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My brother drives a taxi for a living, so he took great offence to my post on my Facebook wall about how enjoyable an experience my first ride in an Uber car was.  Taxi’s are placed right in the firing line of Uber’s convenient offering.  And the Australian and US State Governments are doing their best to defend the industry off which they make revenue.  The Queensland Government has issued a cease and desist notice against the car sharing company when it commenced operation in Brisbane in August and the Nevada government in the US has put up such a stiff fight that Uber has pulled out of the state temporarily.  Despite this, drivers continue to sign up and consumers continue to book through the company all over Australia.  Taxi companies and governments cite “dangers” of unregulated drivers and present all sorts of dramatic stories about what might happen to those who use the application.  But the cynic in me says that is the sad sounds of an industry and revenue stream under threat from a fast-moving competitor.

In one AAP report, Gold Coast Cabs chief executive Gordana Blazevic said passengers used a service such as Uber’s at their own risk.

“Gold Coast Cabs has been built over decades by hard-working small business people who live and work in our local community,” Ms Blazevic said in a statement.

“We would advise people to think hard and long before they drive for illegal rideshare schemes as regulators have indicated that they will be enforcing the existing regulations and fining those who are operating outside the law.”

I am, by all other standards a late adopter of Uber, but then again, it hasn’t long been in the cities I travel to regularly.

Uber kicked off in the USA more than three years ago, and has now been rolled out to 230 cities spread across 50 countries.   It is backed by companies like Google Ventures and Goldman Sachs and is now valued at $30bn as a business.  They own almost no physical infrastructure, yet turns over close to $10bn in revenue per year.  Uber lets drivers receive a good portion of the monies they collect, keeping between 5% and 20% of the fare as a management fee and charging $10 per week for access to the technology for each driver, quite effective in inducing those with a car and a license to drive for a few extra dollars.

Today, I’d like to discuss this new phenomenon of ride-sharing and whether you would feel comfortable considering Uber for your next taxi-trip or perhaps in a foreign country where you can immediately tap into this global resource?  Or perhaps you would consider driving for Uber as a way to earn some extra dollars?

Share yours thoughts today.

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. It now appears it’s open slather for anyone wishing to be a people transport provider, which is the way it should of been since the inception of Taxis. For far too long ,the greedy minority monopolised this previously restricted industry. Good on UBER for making the stand, however they can’t complain when ten thousand other hopefuls start up in opposition to them and the Taxis. Basically anyone with a car and a mobile can provide a service.

    2 REPLY
    • GREAT DARYL MCCULLOCK “”the moinopoly “”costs 500000 bucks to buy and 22000 bucks a year in fees uber no gps tracking no meter for a fair fare no radio so no help if things go wrong .insurance very doubtful ..you promise when youtake out insurance you do not carry passengers for cash ..POLICY VOIDED ….remember cab drivers DO NOT make wages even with the advantages of use of ranks radios ect ..they survive on 60 hour weeks and more.after uber destroy the taxi industry try to get a uber at 3 am tuesday morning in the $4 an hour earning time ….. how many UBERS working then???

  2. I agree this could be a good part time job for seniors who have to work until 70 according to the Govts recommendations……think of the one on one customer old fashioned service for those of us who like driving.

  3. Drive for uber and work out your costs don’t be fooled you will be driving for a pittance.

  4. We had a bad experience in NYC where uber driver randomly approached us when we were in the queue waiting for a taxi outside Penn Station. We only needed to go 7 blocks and he wanted to charge us $120. We protested and ended up giving him $20 and said we were calling the police before he pulled up in the middle of the street and told us to get out of the car. We only just managed to get our luggage out before he took off. We did the same trip in a taxi on our return and it cost $15!

  5. My son and I used Uber on Saturday twice, it was a great experience the cars we lovely and clean both had water on offer asked what music we would like to listen to, they knew exactly where we wanted to go were polite and courteous. Wouldn’t hesitate to use them again.

  6. Used Uber in Melbourne a lot and loved it because the taxis there have a habit of not arriving when called, won’t take you on short trips etc so Uber was great. In Sydney now for two months have been using it and it’s been very efficient – however, my husband and I were at a bus stop on Saturday morning and a Uber driver stopped and asked us whether we would rather take an Uber. We declined and were astonished as thought “touting” for business was a big no-no!

    2 REPLY
    • I would only get into an Uber car which I have ordered on my Uber app. You know the rego number, photo and name of driver. They are not allowed to be hired from roadside.

  7. Not a frequent user of any form of public transport but It remains to be seen how well Uber users might be covered/protected if things go wrong and lead to litigation. For that reason, at least for now I will not be using Uber. However, now that it has some real competion, the Taxi industry might now spruce up some of its service practices – something I have complained about for many years when taxis arrive late or not at all, are dirty, or the driver causes consternation for some reason – I have had some good but some very bad experiences with taxis.

  8. We use it a lot when we visit our daughter in Brisbane. Great service, lovely clean cars, friendly, chatty drivers and even bottles of cold water, not to mention the good pricing.

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