New Zealand Law Society - Uber - the latest cab off the rank

Uber - the latest cab off the rank

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Lawyers often have to travel for work. Maybe a drive to the High Court for that last minute hearing, or from Wellington airport to Molesworth Street and the Court of Appeal, perhaps a jaunt from the Viaduct to Mount Eden to visit an incarcerated client. The cost of the many little journeys that lawyers and law firm staff make each year adds up and can amount to a significant overhead expense. This article introduces the relatively new and rapidly expanding transport service "Uber", which is revolutionising inner-city travel by lowering the cost of an average trip across town.

What is Uber?

Uber is an alternative to taxis. Its business model is based on a digital dispatch system that connects customers with a global network of "partner" cab drivers. Simply download the Uber Application for your iPhone or Android smartphone, establish an account and securely enter your credit card details (one time only), and your phone will use its location services to tell you exactly how many Uber drivers are in your area, and just how long they will take to arrive if you click "request fare" (an average ETA is five minutes).

A driver pulls up, you recognise their car from the licence plate on your App, you get in, they drive, arrive, and you get out. Done. The fare, estimated before the driver arrived, is automatically withdrawn from your registered credit card. An email receipt arrives almost before your feet hit the footpath.

Where can I get one?

Currently, Uber administers a network of drivers in both Auckland and Wellington. A minimum fare is $5, so while "an Uber" (a term that has become synonymous with "cab" or "taxi") might not be right for that short walk from the office to the downtown grocer, an Uber driver can generally take you anywhere a traditional taxi driver might.

When you open the Uber App and request a fare, a map showing your location will appear and allow you to see the real-time movements of available Uber drivers in the area (from GPS signals sent regularly from drivers' smartphones).

Uber operates in 67 countries and more than 300 cities internationally.


Uber's model is all about saving the customer money by reducing overheads traditionally faced by taxicab fleet and dispatch companies. Fewer administrative costs translates to a lower bottom line for fare payers.

For quick trips, Uber might save you a few bucks over other transport services. But if you make 100 trips each year, or your staff collectively make 1,000, the savings add up! Uber recently introduced Uber Business, a service for managing business-related travel that they claim can annually save up to $1,000 per employee.

How does Uber work?

Uber is a network, not a transportation provider (as its website and app state). Its service is the connection of customers with drivers or "partners" who essentially operate their own passenger transport businesses – literally out of their cars.

Uber ensures its partner drivers are fully licenced to drive in New Zealand, and that they have the required licences to commercially carry passengers including; a "P" endorsement (which is subject to applicants passing a medical fitness and personal character Police background check, as well as completion of a passenger endorsement course), Passenger Service Licence, Private hire Service Registration and a registered, warranted, suitable vehicle that is fewer than 10 years old. Partner driver background checks are returned by Police in about six weeks, and applications cost over $600.

Uber fares are dynamic, meaning they fluctuate according to level of demand. Rush hour, peak traffic time trips will usually cost more than a trip during off-peak hours. Drivers understandably like this feature of the Uber platform, as they get paid more when they are working harder, and Uber benefits from a 20% commission on every fare.

Who started Uber?

Uber Technologies Inc was founded by North American entreprenuers Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp in 2009, and was launched internationally in 2012. The San Fransisco-based company has been judged among the top 50 most powerful American companies, and is estimated to be worth more than $USD60 billion.

Download the App and signup with Uber at:

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