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Knoll open to collaborating with Uber on public transport

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Transport Minister Stephan Knoll says he is open to considering a proposal to supplement public transport routes with on-demand services provided by Uber.

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Rideshare giant Uber has floated an idea with the State Government to use its technology to provide alternatives for people in areas under-serviced by public transport.

The company says its on-demand service could be used to complement the state’s existing public transport network by providing commuters with “first and last mile” connections or providing services in places where public transport is not currently available.

Uber SA state manager Lachlan Cooper told InDaily the company’s technology could help solve “critical issues” such as increasing urban mobility and congestion reduction in cities such as Adelaide.

“For example, since 2016, Uber has partnered with Transport Canberra to extend the reach of Canberra’s late night bus services over the Christmas period and during major events,” Cooper said.

“We jointly subsidised a $10 discount on Uber rides that were taken to or from selected bus stops to the surrounding suburbs.

“This effectively expands the reach of the bus network, allowing people to travel the last mile direct to their destination.”

InDaily understands the proposal could be similar to the UberPool service currently being trialled in Sydney and Melbourne, where drivers pick up multiple passengers going in the same direction.

A government spokesperson confirmed that Minister Knoll had met with Uber and that the company had flagged the proposal during one of the meetings.

In a statement to InDaily, Knoll said the State Government was open to considering on-demand public transport through its SA Public Transport Authority (SAPTA), which is yet to be established.

“On-demand public transport as it’s known is already being trialled in NSW and something that the South Australian Government would be open to considering,” Knoll said.

“Through SAPTA, we’ve said that the new State Government is open to exploring all options.

“The State Government will continue to work constructively with all transport and ride sharing stakeholders, including Uber, to ensure South Australians have access to the best public and private transport modes possible.”

The New South Wales Government is currently trialling an on-demand bus service across Sydney in partnership with a range of transport companies including Transdev, Premier Motor Service and Keolis Downer.

Commuters using the service are able to book a bus fare online via an app or over the phone by selecting a time and a pick-up point.

Fares for the NSW service vary, but they are mostly comparable to an adult Opal single bus ticket – the equivalent of South Australia’s Adelaide Metrocard.

A spokesperson for Uber Australia said the company has had “positive” initial conversations with Knoll.

The SA Government announced in last month’s State Budget that “low patronage” and “duplicate” bus and train services would be cut, saving about $45 million over the next four years. The services in question are yet to be revealed.

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