Uber is here, so is waving down a taxi now a thing of the past?

Uber has quickly taken over the New Zealand public transport scene as the ridesharing platform has set up shop across most of New Zealand. Having been around in Auckland for quite a while now, Uber has expanded the reach of its services by venturing down south. Most of us have heard of Uber, it’s talked about online and on American television all the time. It’s the new cheap convenient competitor to the reliable taxi as the modern service is all done on a mobile app with no phone calls needed at all.  However, for some of us, this app/service is relatively new and we have no idea what an Uber is or why the heck people are hoping out of their rides without paying. Let’s investigate the new ridesharing craze that is Uber and how waving down a taxi, may now be a thing of the past.


What is Uber?

Uber is a ridesharing service that began in San Francisco, America, in 2009. It has grown in popularity and now operates internationally as a means of public transport that does well in competing with the modern taxi. Uber is supported by an app, that riders (passengers) and drivers both create profiles on, which works by pairing up riders who are searching for a ride with suitable registered drivers within their area. Everything is done online with the Uber app. From searching for a ride and giving your requested pick up and drop off destinations, to the payment of their services. Yes, Uber is the tech-savvy sister of the taxi. It’s a real game changer in the public transport world as it has shown us how much technology can change such a simple service like public transport.


How Uber works?

Like we said before, Uber operates solely online through the Uber app that all riders and drivers must have on their phone. As a rider, you create a profile that has your email, mobile number and either debit card (NZCU South AccessDebit MasterCard is accepted) or PayPal account linked up to it so all payments can be done quickly and efficiently. Once you have an account, getting a ride can happen in three easy steps.

  • Request: First you open the app and enter your requested destination. You then confirm your location with your mobile so your Uber driver knows exactly where to pick you up from. Once you hit select and confirm your location, you will eventually be paired up with an available Uber driver in your area that will come get you.
  • Ride: Both rider and driver will get to view their opposites profile before they meet up, making it easier to point each other out upon arrival. Once in, the driver will already know where you want to go and will have a GPS guided route sorted with the fastest way there.
  • Hop out: Once there, you simply hop out as the charge will be done automatically to your selected payment method and the receipt sent to your email. No fussing around with cash, just hop out and thank your driver. But don’t forget to give them a review once you are done, reviews are a big part of the service.


The Drivers

Each driver has their own profile that gives information about them and their vehicle, so you know who you are getting into the car with before you do it. These profiles also have anonymous reviews attached to them, along with a rating out of five stars. Uber drivers must retain at least a 4.6-star rating to be a driver so you can be confident that your drivers will be safe and have quality chat.

To be an Uber driver, you must be 21 years old, have had your full New Zealand driver’s license for at least 12 months and own a four-door vehicle that is no older than 9 years. The driver must also have a Passenger Endorsement card and a Certificate of Fitness for their vehicle. You can find more information on their website on the requirements for becoming an Uber driver https://www.uber.com/en-NZ/drive/.

Each driver has their own registered car set up with their profile so you can select what vehicle you want to arrive at your destination in. The good thing about this is since there is no decals or designs on the Uber rides, you could be lucky enough to find a nice Mercedes in your area that is willing to pick you up and take you where you need to go. With that being said, getting a ride in a flash Mercedes might cost you more than your standard Uber ride as each vehicle fits into one of four categories. The four categories being; Economy, Premium, Accessibility and Carpool, all have their own rates that differ based on how luxurious the vehicle is, as well as whether the driver is a professional or not. You can find out more about the differences between each category, online on Ubers Website. https://www.uber.com/en-NZ/ride/

Keep in mind though, not all these options are available nationwide in New Zealand as of yet.


How they compare to taxies

The main points of difference that everyone talks about are the prices and the convenience, with the Uber coming out on top for both. Ubers quick and easy process eliminates the need to wave down random taxis and the fear of strangers stealing them. With everything done online, you can be sure that you will get a ride, know precisely how far away it is and that you will be able to pay for it as the money gets debited out of your account afterwards. You can be confident with your ability to pay because Uber has an Uber fare estimator online so you can get a reasonable estimate on how much your ride should cost beforehand. Uber uses a similar cost estimator to that of a taxi provider but at reduced costs due to less overhead costs with drivers supplying vehicles and everything is done online.

You can also ensure the ride is excellent as the review system is regarded as a badge of honour among drivers, meaning they do everything they can to get your five stars. The higher their rating, the more likely we will pick them, so service is everything for an Uber driver. This differs significantly with taxi drivers, as we never can be sure on who we will get to pick us up. Service is an important factor when comparing Ubers to taxis as if we receive a bad taxi driver, we got to ring up and complain, if we receive a terrible Uber driver, our anonymous review can damage their reputation like that.


So is waving down taxis now a thing of the past?    

Not yet. The humble veteran taxi drivers still have their certain charm about them as they know the ins and outs of their city and often know the perfect reply to give when they hear, “busy night?” The taxi driver also has a knack for knowing every single rugby game that was played that night and can give their expert opinion on how the battle up front won the boys the game or why Ben Smith should be knighted. Yes, the days of the taxi is still around, but its days are numbered. With the convenience and growth in Uber’s services, more and more people will start switching up. North Islanders and the rest of the world have jumped on board with the public transport alternative, it’s just a matter of time before the rest of New Zealand does too.


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