The West

Charter car service eyes Perth start

A revolutionary passenger service described by Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi as "a new paradigm for the taxi business" could come to Perth.

Uber, a San Francisco-based company, is negotiating with the State Government to introduce its smartphone technology to city streets.

It allows commuters to use an app to book private charter vehicles at a slight premium to taxi fares. There is no exchange of money.

Uber has already established fleets in Sydney and Melbourne.

But it faces a significant hurdle in WA, where the Government has a $60 minimum fee for charter- service vehicles.

With many regular fares expected to be less than $60, Uber says this would hinder its business.

Uber's head of public policy in the Asia-Pacific, Jordan Condo, flew from Hong Kong this week for talks with Transport Minister Dean Nalder and transport officials.

"We have been talking about this since September and I think things are progressing," Mr Condo said.

"This would be a terrific addition to the Perth market and we have received great endorsements from many Perth people.

"People have been saying, when are you coming to Perth?

"So if we can get over this hurdle of the $60 fee, we can get our team together quickly and start operating in this city."

Ms Scaffidi, who has used Uber in Los Angeles and San Francisco, said the system "ticks so many boxes" for the driver and customer.

"I really hope the system can be established in Perth," she said.

"While initially it may be a little confronting to the existing style of services typically available, I see it as a smart way to do business.

"Through the use of technology, I think the service is truly 21st century and totally fabulous."

Ms Scaffidi said Uber required the passenger to download the app and upload their name, mobile phone number and credit card details.

Charges were then automatically deducted after a journey.

She said a receipt was also sent to the user within a minute of the journey that showed the route taken, distance travelled, details of the driver and the fare.

"When you call for an Uber via the app, a text comes back to you advising the name, photograph and registration of the driver who will pick you up in a few minutes," Ms Scaffidi said.

"From a driver's perspective, they do not need to carry cash, risk picking up unknown passengers or fear non-payment at the end of the trip."

The West Australian

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