IN CROSSHAIRS: Cabbies will strike back against the rise of Uber.
IN CROSSHAIRS: Cabbies will strike back against the rise of Uber.

Coast cabs plan to take down Uber (and how you will win)

SUNCOAST Cabs has revealed its blueprint to take on the global phenomenon and it's good news for us passengers, as Brisbane cabbies move to fixed-fares to combat Uber.

Suncoast Cabs general manager Eli ten Dam said their new app was about to launch on Android, hopefully by next week, having already been released for iPhones.

He said the new, improved app enabled customers to pay by credit card, receiving only a 1% surcharge.

It's a softer blow than the 11% surcharge currently imposed by Cabcharge on approved transactions.

Suncoast Cabs operations manager Eli ten Dam (R).
Suncoast Cabs operations manager Eli ten Dam (R). john mccutcheon

Fixed-rate fares will also be able to requested quicker and easier through the app when it launches, while improvements were being explored to enable fare quotes to be given and accepted via the app.

Deals are also being done with hotel operators in the region to build fixed-rate fares into accommodation packages for visitors using taxis from the Sunshine Coast Airport.

Mr ten Dam hoped that would cater more to the business market, with direct flights to Sydney and Adelaide opening the region up to more work travel.

Mr ten Dam said the app now prompted users to rate the driver as well, enabling valuable feedback to the company about the performance of its staff.

He said a flat-fare rank established years ago had struggled to succeed, with the linear, sprawled nature of the region making it difficult for the concept to work as well as it did in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley.

While Mr ten Dam said Suncoast Cabs was constantly looking to improve its technology to make the service easier for customers, the "levelling up" of the playing field between taxis and Uber and other rideshare or ride-hail wouldn't come until governments took action to make the industry more equitable.

He said the current $6000 a year paid by cabs for compulsory third party insurance was just one example of the inequality compared to what Uber drivers were paying for insurance.

"Once it evens up we've got no problems," he said.

FLASHBLACK: Former Suncoast Cabs GM John Lobwein a few years ago launching the iPhone and iPad app.
FLASHBLACK: Former Suncoast Cabs GM John Lobwein a few years ago launching the iPhone and iPad app. Cade Mooney

Uber drivers must be at least 21, drive registered, four-door vehicles no older than nine years old and hold a full driver's licence.

Drivers must undergo full criminal and traffic history checks.

UberX ridesharing drive partners must also have a current compulsory third party insurance policy as well as third party property insurance.

"All Uber ridesharing driver-partners in Australia are also protected by at least AUD$20,000,000 contingent coverage for bodily injury to third parties, as well as property damage to road users outside the UberX vehicle," Uber's website reads.

Mr ten Dam said once the unfair overheads, licencing and insurance issues were removed the taxi industry would start to compete much more on price with services like Uber.

Brisbane's Yellow Cabs will begin in earnest in January promoting its new fixed-fare service, after positive feedback from community trials.


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