Is Uber really for everyone?
Since launching on 30 October, much ado has been made of the Uber’s arrival in the nation’s capital.
Once of the questions The Shaker had pondered was around the app’s usability for people who need assistance with transport. Under the Canberra Elite Taxi’s licence, a set amount of wheelchair accessible vehicles must be on the road at any given time, and the availability of a call centre is useful for those who are vision-impaired. It’s part of a universal service obligation, and something that’s not a part of the Uber arrangement.
However, what were the options for Uber? Especially given the disruptive nature of the service and its potential for making traditional taxi services unviable.
It seems that accessibility is something that the San Francisco-based company has been working on, and today’s launch of Uber Assist in Canberra means there are new opportunities for those who struggle with mobility to access an Uber ride.
It’s great to see new companies that exist outside of previous universal service charters exploring and engaging with this market. Existing operations – be they Canberra Elite, Telstra or Qantas – might complain that their legislative arrangements are costly, restrictive and, ultimately, anti-competitive, but this is simply the cost of doing business.
For new companies, the opportunity is there to improve the ‘triple bottom line’ by ensuring operations become essential and valuable for all parts of the economy. Previously, Chair of Canberra Business Chamber, told The Shaker, “I believe that all business exists in a community. And therefore it’s important that we reflect that community.”
Uber is doing this off its own back. That’s worth acknowledging.