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Is Uber Cheaper than a Taxi?

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Published October 4th 2015
Despite recent government action to try to regulate this ride-sharing travel option, Uber is riding high on a wave of consumer support.

There are more than 2,500 Uber drivers in Brisbane alone - and (according to Uber), more than 100,000 customers.



But why are so many jumping on the Uber bandwagon, and is Uber really cheaper than taking a taxi?


About Uber

Uber is no doubt an evolution of the transport industry, and is one of the many companies that has caught on to the popularity of the "share-economy". Other such companies include house/ room renting website AirBNB.

Founded in 2009, Uber is now being used by people in more than 100 countries around the world.

On a side note - Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick boasts the second highest Wii Tennis score in the world. Game, set, match!


Why we're jumping on board

Compared to a taxi or public transport, getting into an Uber is like flying first-class. You'll be offered bottles of chilled water and a mint or sweets. The music is great and the car is pristine.

Uber, Taxi, Car, Transport, Australia


This is because Uber drivers rely on consumer feedback. After every ride, customers are asked to rate their experience from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent). The important number when it comes to driver ratings is 4.6. If a driver's rating is 4.6 or lower, Uber will start considering taking that driver off the system.

This means every Uber driver is aiming to provide a 5-star service.


Why the Taxi Industry is uber angry

Uber wants to be recognised as a ride sharing operation, rather than a taxi.

However, there's no doubt the company operates within the same space as the taxi industry and, since coming to Australia, has taken a slab of the taxi industry's market share.

The problem is that taxis and other companies within the industry, such as Cabcharge, rely on tight regulations to maintain profits.

But the Uber business model is not burdened by these regulations, such as the traditional licence fee, the cost of which the Australian Taxi Industry Association put at $519,000 in 2014 in Queensland metropolitan areas.


But is it cheaper?

On 24 September this year, consumer advocacy group CHOICE released the results of a report comparing taxi and Uber services.

The report investigated factors like price, reliability and safety, and the clear winner was Uber. In face, found to be just as safe and reliable as the average taxi, Uber came out to be 40% cheaper on average.

CHOICE's research was conducted over 56 trips across Sydney - 28 in taxis and 28 with Uber, taken at several different times of day.

Mostly, Uber wins because it charges less fees (e.g. airport fees, eftpos fees), and has a lower rate per kilometre.

CHOICE spokesperson Matt Levey says, in Queensland, taxis charge users per kilometre regardless of whether they are moving or stuck in traffic or at the lights, whereas Uber's pricing charges riders per kilometre and per minute.

He says consumers can use Uber's fare estimate calculator before booking a car to ensure they are paying a reasonable charge.


Would I use Uber?

Absolutely. I've used Uber several times now (mostly with friends heading to or from the City).
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Uber cars arrive faster than any cab I have ever booked and I have been using cabs for decades. The drivers are polite, can actually speak English and are very safe drivers ... some of the scariest rides in my life have been in cabs. At the end of the journey there is no awkward exchange of money or finding pens for cabcharge vouchers and cabdrivers angling for a tip. Uber cars are immaculate and part of the fun is sitting in the variety of cars in the Uber pool. Don't get me started on how much cheaper the ride is.
by david (score: 1|11) 1401 days ago
I would always choose Uber over taxi's hands down.
Frequently in the past I have felt unsafe whilst in a taxi on my own, while traveling in an Uber ride, each driver has been polite and friendly. Uber pick ups are quick, the fare is cheaper, you can share the fare easily with friends and they don't try to rip you off, by taking the longest route possible or driving 15km under the speed limit.

Uber all the way!!
by jessi (score: 1|23) 1407 days ago
Taxis in QLD used to charge by time too because sitting at the red lights, the meter/ $ charge kept increasing while we sat there.
by steve (score: 1|11) 1412 days ago
Uber is cheaper and the service is better. We love the bottled water they provide as a bonus if necessary! You can also track Uber to and from destinations, you know who the driver is and have their car registered and we find this safe. At busy times the Uber fares increase so taxis could be cheaper but if this is the case, you have to wait for a very long time for taxis. We also love seeing lots of females and males driving Uber to suit their lifestyles. If you cannot beat them, join them and taxi industry should stop all the fuss. If they continue, more people power will support Uber - a no brainer!
by janie (score: 0|4) 1411 days ago
Yes Uber is cheaper than taxis, however if there is a surge (high demand) the price goes up. A surge maybe 1.3x, 1.5x,or even as high as 2, if it surges at 2, you will pay the same as a taxi fare. So a normal Uber fare is half the cost of a taxi. The rider is informed of the surge when requesting a ride, a surge will usually only last 10 minutes at most. Therefore the rider has the choice if they prefer to wait 10 mins. Uber will let the rider know when fares are normal again. people of Brisbane love Uber as they find the Uber experience very different to taxi rides. Uber drivers keep their cars clean, well maintained and are encouraged to be friendly and efficient in getting the rider to their destination as directly as possible. Uber drivers will usually ask the rider if they know a better way or just follow the GPS. There is no trying to take people the longest way in order to increase fares.The driver is also rated by the rider as Uber have a 5 star rating system and drivers are not to allow their rating to fall below 4.75 stars. The taxi industry has had a monopoly in this industry too long and its great having an alternative that is a much better experience for half the price, why would'nt you love that?
by annie (score: 0|4) 1411 days ago
Why wouldn't it be cheaper when you pay over $500,000 for a taxi license, as well as around $5,000 each for registration and insurance and then there's all the QTransport fees for safety inspections etc. Add in $1000 to help the driver do a week long course including an English test. If Uber is allowed to operate, they should be paying the same fees to the government. Canberra is halving their fees next year and halving them again the year after but that doesn't help the person who's previously invested in a taxi license when they go to sell. There's going to be a lot of angry taxi owners/drivers around including me!
by jennyquinn2000 (score: 0|2) 1411 days ago
I use it all the time, great service and allot cheaper.
by miss_ (score: 0|4) 1410 days ago
The reason it is cheaper is that it hasn't adheared to all the safety requirements that legislation requires. It also does not collect GST thus depriving our states from funding for our schools, our roads and our hospitals. It is also cheaper because it does not provide for the correct insurance and registration and maintenance on their vehicles. So the next time you catch an UBER ride remember that your community and your state and your safety is losing. my suggestion is that you delete the app until such time it is regulated.
by pavto (score: 0|8) 1409 days ago
Are they legally licensed vehicles to carry paying customers
Are the drivers tested for driving skills
Are the drivers backgrounds, health and criminal records checked
Are the drivers in uniform
Are their public liability and/or personal accident insurances adequate
Are their vehicles in recognisable colours
Are their vehicles compulsorily and regularly serviced and maintained
Are their vehicles cleaned and checked between rosters
Are their vehicles fitted with meters, radio contacts, surveillance equipment
Are there other paying passengers in every SHARE taxi
by celes (score: 0|2) 1403 days ago
yes and so much nicer drivers
by lavel (score: 0|2) 1410 days ago

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