Acceptance of car-based public transport upstart Uber is growing in Australia, with Tasmania the latest region to welcome the company and others using the same 'ride-sharing' business model.
The news follows confirmation that Tasmania had been exploring the case, together with the state's peak motoring body, RACT, for legalising the popular service.
It also comes nearly three months after Uber's ride-sharing 'Uber X' service was made legal in Victoria, having already been embraced by the Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, New South Wales and ACT.
The Northern Territory is now the only region in Australia to have maintained its ban on ride-sharing services, announcing in February that it would not approve a proposed change to the relevant legislation.
Tasmanian premier Will Hodgman told press in Hobart that around 70 people have registered as Uber X 'partner drivers', declaring it vital that residents and tourists have access to the innovative products becoming standard elsewhere.
“With a rapidly growing visitor economy it is important we keep pace with innovative products like ride-sharing which tourists have become accustomed to elsewhere, and we want Tasmanians to also enjoy a greater range of services that are available in other states,” he said.
“Uber represents additional job opportunities for Tasmanians, with around 70 people already registered locally as drivers.”
One new driver, Stuart Allen, told the ABC that he was surprised at the level of scrutiny Uber X drivers must go through.
"There's lots of steps, like working with vulnerable people, police check, you need a vehicle inspection done by the RACT, you need to provide current registration papers, a full driver's licence," he said.
According to the ABC, there are around 350 cab drivers in Hobart and, not surprisingly, many are concerned with what Uber's arrival will mean for their livelihood.
However, one driver told ABC: "I'm just a driver, I can move ... if it's more work in Uber, I'll just work in Uber."
Unlike other states and territories, the Tasmanian government has not offered its taxi drivers any compensation, although it has agreed to suspend the issuing taxi licences so as to ensure there will be no oversupply that could further diluting income potential.
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