Minutes after taking his first Uber ride in Canberra today, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr called on his counterparts in other states to adopt his regulatory model for ride-sharing.
“I am calling on other leaders around the country to look at the ACT model and to put that in place across the country because it will enhance productivity, it will support innovation and it will lead to better outcomes for Australians regardless of where they leave,” he said.
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Uber partner-driver Ulli Brunnschweiler was one of the first people to personally congratulate ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr on ensuring Canberra was the first capital city in the world to regulate ride-sharing.
“I’m proud to be a Canberran,” she said at a lakeside launch event for Uber in the territory. “This is true leadership.”
Ms Brunnschweiler said Uber driving was the perfect fit for her life because she loves driving, has the right vehicle, the right qualifications and experience for the job.
“And I can choose when to work and for how many hours.”
As of noon today, you can download the Uber app and book a rideshare in Canberra. Rival service On Tap commenced operations last night providing further competition for the capital’s taxis, though taxis will still have an exclusive role in providing rank and hail service and wheelchair accessible taxi services.
Ms Brunnschweiler is one of 100 registered Uber drivers in Canberra, with more to come as the Uber team work around the clock to complete background checks and add new drivers.
A printmaker and photographer, Ms Brunnschweiler traded in her old car for a new Mitsubishi Mirage and will be driving during the day to boost her savings.
Fellow Uber driver Peter Mackay said he would use the income to supplement his public service pension.
“I was a cab driver for five years but retired four years ago,” he said.
Mr Mackay would be be driving a silver VW Golf, “like everyone else in Canberra”, he said.
Uber Australia CEO David Rohrsheim said he was “super-excited” to be launching in Canberra that it has been a pleasure working with the ACT government to bring the service to town.
“The Chief Minister and Shane Rattenbury heard consumers, they heard 1000s of people asking for change, asking for a better way to get around the city,” he said.
“They came to understand what are the right safety mechanisms, what are the right regulations to put in place to protect consumers, and so they did, in a very fact based way.”
Prices for Uber trips would typically be 20-30 per cent cheaper than a taxi ride over the same route, he said, acknowledging however that fares do increase in peak times to encourage more Uber drivers onto the roads to meet demand.
Mr Barr said his government would continue to support this sort of innovation in Canberra.
“That is a very clear indication of the direction my government will take, wanting to be national leaders in the sharing economy, and on innovation and entrepreneurship,” he said.