ALL systems are go with ride-sharing service Uber due to launch in Horsham on Thursday.
Horsham resident Ben Plunkett has signed up to be an Uber driver and said he was excited to see what the experience would bring.
“I decided to sign up because I enjoy driving and interacting with people. The flexible hours are a big bonus also as I run my own business, Plunkett Media, so it will be good to drive when I have some spare time,” he said.
“It will depend on demand obviously as to how much I drive, but I’m thinking Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights or whenever I feel like it otherwise.”
He said Uber would “absolutely” be popular in Horsham.
“Time will tell but I am positive that the community is excited to be able to book an Uber on their phone, nice and quickly, not having to worry about having any cash or cards,” he said.
Related: Uber date set for Horsham
“It was easy to sign up as a driver, but somewhat time consuming and plenty of waiting for applications to be approved. I also took a trip to Melbourne to have my car assessed but I had other jobs to do at the same time which was handy.
“I don’t have any safety concerns at this time. I hope that the Horsham community will be respectful and we can both enjoy the benefits of having Uber in our town.”
Mr Plunkett will start driving for Uber in about a month and will use his 2012 Holden Commodore SSV Redline Wagon.
Uber is a ride-sharing service that is considered an alternative transport option to taxis.
Horsham was one of four Victorian towns announced in October for Uber’s latest regional roll-out, with Shepparton, Torquay and Warrnambool also due to receive the service.
Related: Uber launch draws closer for Horsham
Although Uber Eats hasn’t been announced for Horsham, an Uber spokeswoman said the company was “always assessing” location options for the service.
Uber Victorian manager Matt Horn said the company was excited to expand into regional Victoria, with services due to also start in Warrnambool and Shepparton on Thursday.
“We’re very excited to be able to launch into new towns like this. There’s always a bit of nervousness at the start of a new launch, whether it’s a small town or a big city. We’re really committed to making it work and giving people the best service possible,” he said.
He said the decision to launch in Horsham was due to a high number of residents downloading and opening the app.
“One of the reasons why we selected Horsham was that there was quite a bit of buzz around our brand. We were able to see where people were opening our app to see whether services were available. Horsham was definitely a standout in the towns that we hadn’t already launched,” he said.
“From a driver perspective, the response has been really encouraging and we’re working hard with them. We’re always keen to have more drivers on the platform. Our main focus now will be to watch closely as to how these towns go and build the service.”
There are a number of steps a person has to undertake before becoming an Uber driver.
“The drivers need to be accredited with the Victorian government, as does their vehicle. We also look into their insurance. There are two key background checks – one is a criminal history check and the second is a drivers’ history check,” he said.
You can find a map of Uber’s service area in Horsham here.
Horsham Taxis owner Russell Carter said Uber would impact his business.
“As time goes on, they will get the choice of jobs and our business will drop off. We have local 26 families who rely on this business for their livelihoods. This could mean losing cars and drivers,” he said.
“I don’t know why Uber would choose to launch in a town the size of Horsham; I can see 12 months down the track, when Uber starts losing drivers, that we will be the ones to pick up the slack.
“Our business supports the local community; we know the people who we are picking up, and they know us.
“I’m happy for a bit of competition, but only as long as it’s a level playing field – which this is not.”
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