Of apps and ice cream: Uber's disruption of the traditional transport industry

Our publisher and fearless leader, Vincent Heeringa, talked to Mark Sainsbury on his radio show last Sunday about the recent success of transport app, Uber.

The pair discussed what has lead to the app's success, the legal problems it could pose and the impacts all this could have on traditional taxi companies.

Listen to the full interview here.

Our friends over at Stoppress recently ran an article on Uber's success in the New Zealand Market. Below is an excerpt from the article.

Part of its success is because New Zealand has an extremely expensive taxi market that they have been able to provide a cost-effective alternative to, says Oscar Peppitt, Uber New Zealand's general manager.

Uber has launched in 204 cities in 45 countries around the world, and it's faced challenges from regulators and established taxi operators in some of them, but Peppitt says New Zealand is “one of the more progressive markets in the world when it comes to transportation regulation”.

“New Zealand is one of the few deregulated transport markets in the world. Drivers are independent operators running their own business, and contracting to taxi companies and booking services. It's one of the reasons why Uber's growth has been so great in this market.”

Uber’s current offering in New Zealand is legally covered under our private car hire service laws. The drivers are all required to hold passenger endorsements on their drivers' licenses, sit ‘fit and proper person’ tests through NZTA, are subject to driving hour limits and are required to keep logbooks that record their driving hours. All fares must be pre-agreed, and even receiving informal payment for a ride in the form of donation or ‘reward’ means the driver needs to comply with NZTA.  

Overseas, services like Uber and competitor Lyft connect passengers with unlicensed, regular drivers who have space and want to make some money on the side: consumer-to-consumer ridesharing (in London, this led to a big strike from Black Cab drivers and, unexpectedly, a massive increase in Uber downloads). 

This is part of a growing “sharing economy” where regular people are renting out their houses, cars, and even goods like digital equipment when they’re not using it. 

In 2013, Forbes estimated revenue flow from the share economy would surpass $3.5 billion in the year. But the sharing economy has butted up against regulators who have raised questions about how to ensure safety, value, customer service and quality of goods. 

When asked whether it would ever consider introducing drivers who are not licensed to take passengers, as is the case overseas, Uber replied: “All Uber partners in New Zealand are licensed and accredited by the NZTA. Our focus is on continuing to grow on the phenomenal success we've seen in this market.”