Nothing gets people more riled up than having their golden ox gored. Especially when their golden ox is a previously unchallenged monopoly.
Such is the tempest being created by the inevitable launch of ridesharing service Uber in Cairns. Neanderthal John "Cueball" MacKenzie has led the charge against free enterprise and in favour of government regulation, giving his cabbie listeners spots almost daily to rail against the Uber arrival. Just yesterday, MacKenzie claimed that the Compost survey of the public was "evenly split" between support and opposition of Uber.
How are 10 supporters equal to the 5 naysayers? Only in MacKenzie's fact-challenged world, that's how.
While there are clearly some regulatory hurdles to be overcome, there is no question that Uber will be operational in Cairns very shortly.
This kind of increased competition is exactly the kind of
practical benefit the public can reap from the widespread use of smartphones. Need to get somewhere? A couple clicks on Uber and you find a ride, get the estimated arrival time to your departure location, and pay a generally lower price in the process. And when the ride is over, you're invited to provide instant feedback to Uber management about the driver, the vehicle, and the overall service.
Some believe Uber is unregulated. This is false. In many ways, Uber is MORE regulated than the current taxi system. Ever tried to make a complaint about a dirty, smelly taxi? Or a driver who didn't know where he was going, didn't speak English, or tried to overcharge you? Good luck. The "complaint" system is designed to protect the drivers and licence holders, not the public. Time to get the government out of this regulatory task and require ALL on-demand transportation services to utilise the Uber regulation model.
Look at how Uber has already affected the taxi monopoly in Cairns. Cairns Taxis has for the first time begun "ordering its 450 drivers to keep their service, vehicles, and uniforms a the highest standard". Why wasn't this a requirement before? Because as a monopoly, they don't really give a shit about the public. Their substandard level of service has been a big black mark against the Cairns tourism market.
The only argument being proffered by the taxi drivers? "We're going to lose 500 jobs". That's a good thing, if the fares drop and 1500 additional Uber vehicles replace them. And look at these taxi jobs? The drivers routinely claim that they can make as little as $8 and hour, with huge profits going to the actual taxicab owners. Removing the middleman in this case is discounts directly passed on to the public. It's a proven fact that lower, market-based pricing by Uber actually INCREASES the number of people desiring this kind of point-to-point transit. A good thing for all of us.
Running under the radar in Cairns is also the internet-based accommodation service, AirBNB. AirBNB shows almost 20 accommodation units available in Palm Cove, with growing occupancy rates. Even mainstream providers like the Reef House and Sea Temple have units listed for rent on AirBNB - clearly seeing that expansion of tourism opportunities is a win/win for everyone.
Expansion of tourism infrastructure is of benefit to ALL of Cairns. Taxi drivers and their protective granddad John MacKenzie are clinging to the past, to the detriment of the majority. We welcome Uber to Cairns!