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"We are still here": UberX "committed" to Adelaide

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Ride-sharing giant Uber has told prospective drivers in Adelaide that it remains “committed” to the South Australian market, again undermining its threat to walk away if the Weatherill Government doesn’t water down its regulations.

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Uber, which is making an aggressive play to cement its ride-sharing operation in Australia, last week declared it would not be bringing its UberX service to Adelaide because of prohibitive start-up costs, which it claimed were $600 more than in NSW and the ACT, the other jurisdictions where ride-sharing has been legalised.

The Weatherill Government has questioned Uber’s cost claims, but concedes processing costs in SA are more onerous than elsewhere.

Premier Jay Weatherill last week accused Uber of “posturing” after it publicly declared it would walk away from SA because it was “unviable”.

However, InDaily can reveal Uber has written to prospective drivers who have registered interest to operate an UberX service, reassuring them that “we are still here and committed to providing you a straightforward and affordable process to get you on the road easily”.

“There are a lot of reports in the media about our hopes and plans for Adelaide, which can appear confusing at times,” the company says in an email signed by “Team Uber Adelaide”.

“It is important to us that you know we are still here and we are committed to providing you a straightforward and affordable process to get you on the road easily.”

It goes on to detail its concerns about the Government regulations, under which “a prospective driver-partner like yourself would have to wait anywhere from two weeks to three months and pay around $800, just to get started”.

“In a recent survey conducted by Uber, approximately 73 per cent of SA partners said they would not be able to afford over $600 in start up costs,” the email states.

“Under the proposed regulations, it just wouldn’t be possible for ridesharing in Adelaide to reach its full potential.”

That echoes a statement to InDaily from Uber’s national general manager David Rohrsheim earlier this week, who appeared to soften his Adelaide team’s bullish stance on quitting SA, but insisted under the current regulatory regime “ride-sharing simply won’t reach its potential – with Uber’s technology or anybody else’s”.

Uber tells its prospective “driver-partners” that the Government “fails to recognise that there are many driver-partners who only want to work a couple of hours a week”.

“The combination of having to wait months for paperwork to be processed by Government and high start-up costs will present a significant barrier to ridesharing for many of you,” it says.

“We have a process that works and has been tested by over 10 million trips in Australia. With our current process in SA, a prospective driver-partner could be active in less than two weeks.”

This process, it explains, would involve a national Criminal History Check, a Driving History Check and a Vehicle Inspection. Uber tells applicants it will be holding information sessions in coming weeks “where you can meet our local team and ask any questions you have”.

“We are still here, we are working hard and we are committed to providing you a straightforward and affordable process to get you on the road easily,” it concludes, before urging applicants to “continue the sign-up process” and proceed with their criminal history checks.

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