Here at Uber, we know that ridesharing can go a long way towards revolutionising cities that suffer from impaired mobility due to congestion and inefficient public transport. Two of Auckland's major transportation issues.
Take car ownership for example. More than 90% of Kiwis have access to a car, but without a credible alternative, car ownership is simply the most convenient and cost-effective method of transportation. Especially when taxis are as expensive as they are in New Zealand, and public transport is neither reliable nor convenient unless you live near the city centre.
While the Government's solution is to spend billions on improving Auckland's heavily congested transport network, ridesharing services could be a more cost effective complement to alleviating congestion and infrastructure strain.
In Chicago, Uber is now an affordable alternative not just to taxis but also to car ownership. Those who've embraced ridesharing avoid the costs of parking, insurance, fuel, maintenance and vehicle depreciation, without losing any of the benefits of owning a car. The result - car ownership is now more expensive than using Uber, with the annual cost of owning a car at USD$11,150, compared to riding with Uber at USD$8,741.
Ridesharing also complements existing public transit services. It can boost public transport use by providing the option to share a ride to or from the nearest public transport hub, with the remaining leg of the journey completed by bus, boat or rail. In Sydney we've already seen ridesharing have a real impact on the lives of those underserved by public transport, with 64.4% of Uber rides beginning or ending in a public transport desert.
Add our carpooling service to the mix, uberPOOL, and you're looking at not just reducing the number of cars on the road, but also a heap of environmental benefits too. A 2013 MIT study of New York City taxi data indicates that carpooling in cities could reduce the number of vehicles on the road by up to 30 per cent, while in San Francisco uberPOOL reduced CO2 emissions by about 120 metric tonnes in a single month - equivalent to burning 58 tonnes of coal.
These are just some of the ways that the application of technology applied to the provision of transport has revolutionised the simple task of getting from A to B in cities around the world.
Unfortunately, in New Zealand ridesharing is not yet set up to flourish in the same way as other places. If you want to earn a flexible income giving someone a ride from A to B, the current licensing framework requires that you pay nearly $2,000 for three different licenses that can take more than 10 weeks to get.
Only a small part of this cost and time is devoted to making sure a driver-partner is safe, the rest act as unrelated barriers to the provision of rides. For people who want to offer rides in their spare time to earn an extra buck, these unnecessary barriers are simply too high. This leads to less availability and reliability of cars for riders, and drives up the cost for driver-partners.
The real benefits of ridesharing will only be realised in New Zealand when prohibitive barriers are removed and ridesharing becomes a real possibility for more private car owners. Like the stay-at-home mum or dad who wants to offer rides in their spare time or the underemployed professional who wants to supplement their income on the weekend.
Technology affords us the opportunity to revolutionise transport in Auckland, reduce congestion and emissions, provide flexible income for thousands of Kiwis and improve the reliability and affordability of point-to-point transport. We just need reform which says yes to safe, reliable and affordable rides and no to the status quo.
Oscar Peppitt is the New Zealand General Manager at Uber.