Uber sparks cabbie war in Hamilton
Uber is finally coming to Hamilton - but cabbies say they'll fight back with service.
The "ride-sharing" app service plans to launch in Hamilton at the end of the year, and will start laying out the groundwork by mapping out the streets around the city.
The service allows users to get cheaper fares by using the app to book and pay drivers working on contract with the international company. Uber promises quick service and low fares while the taxi industry highlights concerns over security and safety issues with private drivers moonlighting as defacto cabbies.
On Thursday, a dozen local residents will be driving around the neighbourhoods with a camera on their roof collecting data. This will help Uber determine the best route for drivers, estimate arrival time with traffic and identify street segments.
Hamilton Taxis, the biggest and longest serving taxi service in Hamilton isn't bothered by the new-comer.
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General manager Andy Collins said they will just concentrate on their business.
For 61 years the service has been in operation, with 68 taxi vehicles on the road.
"We're not too bothered in terms of what will be, will be. Competition is healthy for any type of business," Collins said.
"We want to focus on ourselves, but we are aware they'll be someone else around."
He added there would be an initial impact on the taxi service when Uber launches.
"It would be foolish not to think there will be an impact, but, what degree of impact is an intangible thing. We won't know until it happens.
"Until then, we will provide a safe, reliable, good standard of service, guaranteed."
A Hamilton Taxis driver, who did not want to be named, said there had been rumours of Uber coming to Hamilton for some time.
The driver, who had been with the taxi company for six years, believed Uber wouldn't do well in the "small towns" and didn't plan on jumping ship.
"I will stick with these guys. We keep busy, do a lot of small jobs, $10 to $15 jobs.
"An old lady going to do some shopping - she doesn't have the Uber app, but she knows our number off by heart."
He said people should stick with taxis.
"We have a high standard - the flat rate, the meter running, security with the cameras, a uniform, shirt and tie, and a name badge."
Collins said while Uber may be cheaper, in some instances it can surge in pricing around peak hour times.
"It will work for some people, but others, more traditional, will catch a taxi.
"You get what you pay for with us."
Uber NZ general manager Richard Menzies said the service will offer a more affordable and reliable way to get around.
He said many residents have signed up to ride and drive.
"Ride-sharing will create much needed economic opportunities for local residents, giving them the opportunity to access flexible work, and help alleviate pressure on the existing transport network with a more affordable and reliable way to get around the local area."
Uber is currently operating in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
Mapping will also be done in Tauranga, with plans to launch at the end of the year.
In March, Uber launched its food delivery service, UberEats, in Auckland, delivering restaurant meals on-demand to homes and offices.
The app-based service launched with menus from 70 restaurants and delivers seven days a week within Auckland central suburbs.