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Wozniak worried about Uber monopoly


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Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has expressed his concern over the operations of ridesharing company Uber, saying he wishes there were more alternatives.





Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has said he's concerned about how Uber pays its drivers and that the company could become a monopoly.


"Woz" said he wishes there were four or five alternatives to Uber, which he said will "push their workforce down to the absolute lowest minimum wage that they can get away with".


"It is a danger when any group becomes a very powerful monopoly because they can take advantage and use it in bad ways," he said in Sydney on Monday.


Uber was first given the green light to operate legally by the ACT government last October. The Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Transport Reform Shane Rattenbury said at the time the taxi industry reform is part of broader reform to public transport, coupled with a belief that it will give customers access to safe, flexible, and affordable ridesharing services, while also reducing costs for taxi drivers, owners, and passengers.


It wasn't long after the NSW government followed suit, legalising ridesharing services such as Uber.

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance said at the time the decision was a landmark one as it would create a level playing field for the point to point transport industry in NSW.

"NSW is going to have a new transport economy," Constance said. "People will have more choice, better services, and better value when it comes to the point to point market."

Shortly after the NSW government introduced the reforms, taxi app platform GoCatch launched its own ridesharing service, GoCar, to compete directly with Uber.

"We've been in this point to point transport market since we launched in 2011 but we've gone about doing that via taxi drivers. But with the changing regulations in Australia, it's serving a whole new path to the market that we have not been able to go into previously, and it's actually a fairly straightforward adoption of the existing platform to roll this out," GoCatch CEO Ned Moorfield said of the launch.


He added that regulatory reforms also pave the way for the company to be a strong competitor to Uber in the local market, highlighting how major domestic competitors overseas have been successful. These included Didi Kuaidi in China, Lyft in the United States, Grab in Southeast Asia, and Ola Cabs in India.


GoCar now operates alongside GoCatch's existing taxi-booking service, and gives users the option when they launch the app to order a taxi or choose the GoCar option. Much similar to the Uber app, users are able to track when a driver is en-route to their location, and pay the driver via the app by entering and saving their credit card details or linking their PayPal account.


Moorfield rejected the idea that GoCar would take business away from existing taxi drivers using GoCatch, arguing it will in fact bring in more business for them.


"We know ridesharing is going to attract a lot more passengers onto our platform, and a lot of the work will overflow onto taxi drivers. We think taxi drivers on our platform will broadly be a lot busier and will make more money when they're using GoCatch," he said.


"The other thing is we're absolutely opening this up to taxi drivers to drive their personal vehicles as ridesharing drivers, and around half of our existing sign ups of GoCar drivers are actually current or ex-taxi drivers. The taxi drivers are taking this model up in large numbers."


However, unlike the ACT and NSW governments, the Northern Territory government took a stand against Uber by introducing reforms to the taxi industry, but without making regulatory changes to allow for ridesharing services to operate.


It said it will monitor the "other jurisdictions across Australia where unauthorised ridesharing has been operating".


Northern Territory Transport Minister Peter Chandler said the reforms will benefit passengers and the community, as well as drivers and taxi operators.


He added that Uber will be held as "a sword of Damocles" over the head of taxi operators who don't lift their game, warning another review on the industry will be held in a year to see how well the taxi industry is shaping up.


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