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Uber has sight set on regional Qld, NSW

PSEUDO-TAXI company Uber has its eyes set on regional New South Wales and Queensland as it increases its market share in Australia.

The online car-share business has made headlines for its cheap rates, but also for flouting the law and offering a taxi service without licensed drivers.

It has launched in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Adelaide and Geelong and is looking further afield.

A spokesman for the US-based company confirmed regional towns in Queensland and NSW were on Uber's radar.

Users request a car via a smartphone app and watch their driver's journey to the pick-up address via an online map.

Drivers do not pay expensive licensing fees, making fares cheaper than traditional taxis.

The service is illegal in Australia with fines of up to $2500 being issued, but the business continues to expand.

North Coast Taxi Council president Ashley Clark-Smith said the industry was keeping a watchful eye on the "dangerous" spread beyond major cities.

The second-generation owner of Casino Cabs said Uber could undermine regional operators who undergo rigorous checks to keep their licences.

"What shocked me was that they don't do any wheelchair work or work with people with disabilities," he said.

"To me, that's a form of discrimination."

Mr Clark-Smith said most drivers would be "mums and dads" picking up extra money on Friday and Saturday nights.

"That's when our drivers make their money. In country towns, a lot of taxi owner-operators already have plates on the shelf because there's not enough work," he said.

"We won't be able to have drivers for our business.

"And that means the disabled side of our business won't be able to operate.

"Our rules and regulations are there for a reason.

"Someone will get hurt. When that happens, perhaps the government will act."

A spokeswoman for Lyft, one of Uber's biggest global competitors, stated the company had no intentions of launching in Australia "at this time".

-APN NEWSDESK



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