Uber launch welcomed by Launceston community

Ride-sharing app
Ride-sharing app

Uber’s announcement it will operate out of Launceston will satisfy a common expectation of visitors to the area, according to community stakeholders.

The company put the call out on Tuesday for expressions of interest from drivers after consultation with peak bodies. 

Among them was the Launceston Chamber of Commerce executive officer Neil Grose, who met with representatives from the company two weeks before the news became public. 

Mr Grose said his conversations with travellers had indicated there was a need for Uber in Launceston.

“I’ve had tourists ask me where they can catch an Uber from, and the company knew how many people were attempting to access the app from this region,” he said.

“There is already a Tasmanian model to draw from in Hobart.”

Mr Grose’s sentiments were echoed by Tourism Northern Tasmania chief executive Chris Griffin, who said the development reflected a regional shift towards shared economy services.

“Visitors to Tasmania are more and more looking for sharing economy services like Uber and Airbnb as these services become more commonplace in their home state or country,” he said.

“As a visitor industry, we need to adapt to the disruption Uber creates in ways that ensure our visitors are both safety and receiving the best quality service, but also in how our existing businesses can cater to these new visitor demands.”

City of Launceston mayor Albert van Zetten said the council would watch the ride-sharing service’s progress “with interest”, having conducted discussions with the company as “a courtesy.”

"We try to learn from the experiences of other cities in managing the various challenges that arise from the sharing economy and new technologies,” he said. 

“Ultimately it's a matter for the general public as to whether they support these services or not."

Uber has not always had smooth ride when extending its customer base, with existing transport services often a source of friction in communities.  Australian Taxi Association president Michael Jools said people should be wary of the opportunities the app offers.

“Driving for Uber is a good short-term solution for people looking to make a bit of money on the weekend, but in the long run, citizens deserve better,” he said.