The future of transport has arrived and it's going to make your groggy Saturday night commute home much cheaper.
Uber is one of my favourite new mobile applications. The company’s tagline is 'everyone’s private driver', and that is exactly what it feels like to use the service. Uber replaces the taxi.
The concept is easy, sign up, request a ride using the app and get picked by a stranger in their car within minutes.
Simply put, it allows anybody with four wheels, not necessarily a licensed taxi or hire-car driver, to make some money by giving you a lift.
It sounds a bit creepy, right? It needn't be. The sign-up proces for drivers is fairly rigorous, with all Uber drivers monitored from start to finish of each fare.
Ordering an Uber car is awesome (actually it's fun) and super-easy and it's the small differences that make a big impact. With Uber, you will not only know the driver's name, they'll know yours; while you will know the make and model of the car and where they are at any given moment — you'll even receive a text when your driver is about a minute away.
As a result, many people are hooked. Since launching four years ago in San Francisco, Uber has raised $300 million from investors such as Google Ventures and Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. It operates in 70 cities around the world and was on track to book more than $1 billion annually in rides last year. In February this year, Uber expanded to Dubai, Honolulu, Lyon, Manila, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Durban.
But here in Australia the app has been met with heavy criticism, no more so than in New South Wales.
The taxi industry is pushing to block hire care drivers from taking their fares. In a recent submission to Transport for NSW, the NSW Taxi Council argues apps were blurring the line between hire car and taxis as transport options.
To add to the controversy the NSW and Victorian governments have begun cracking down by issuing $2,500 fines and threatening legal action against motorists who offer the service.
Oh, and one more thing. Uber has now introduced water taxis on Sydney Harbour!