Since the NSW Government legalised ride-sharing services, it was inevitable that competitors to UberX would emerge. The first one off the rank is taxi app startup GoCatch, which has just launched its very own ride-sharing service called GoCar. So how do the two services differ? Here are the details.
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There was a lot of resistance from the taxi industry when Uber came onto the scene and started offering its UberX service that allowed Australians to use their own private cars to offer rides to people for a fee. Many were fed up with the level of service and high cost of taxis and UberX provided a suitable alternative. But the legalities around ride-sharing was sketchy given that UberX drivers were breaching the Passenger Transport Act.
NSW and the ACT have now cleared things up and explicitly legalised ride-sharing services while Victoria is still looking into this matter. Meanwhile, appetite from consumers for ride-sharing continue to grow.
Enter GoCar, a ride-sharing service launched by GoCatch, an Australian company known for its taxi app of the same name. GoCatch CEO Ned Moorfield is unabashed about marketing GoCar as a direct competitor to UberX. The service is only available in the Sydney region for now but there are plans to make it available Australia-wide.
GoCar is similar to UberX in certain ways. They both do their due diligence in terms of running background checks on drivers and inspecting vehicle before allowing them to represent the company. The GoCar service is offered through an app as well but that's where the similarities end.
While UberX operates on surge pricing (that is, the cost for a ride is higher when there is more demand and vice versa), GoCar has defined peak and off-peak hours to provide consumers with more clarity on how much they should expect their rides to cost.
"We're not going with surge pricing because people really dislike that approach," Moorfield told Lifehacker Australia. "We don't believe in matching supply and demand and I think for Uber it's all about maximising profits for itself."
He said drivers that he had spoken to don't like surge prices because when the cost is driven up by demand, potential customers are put off and end up finding an alternative mode of transport.
Moorfield said GoCar will still be 20-30 per cent cheaper than taxis during off-peak times and 10-15 per cent cheaper during peak hours. The saving are comparable to UberX. Drivers are also charged less commission than Uber: 15 per cent compared with 20 per cent, he said.
Considering GoCatch is used by tens of thousands of taxi drivers around the country, isn't GoCatch worried about a backlash from existing taxi drivers? Not at all, according to Moorfield.
"Lots of taxi drivers are recognising ride-sharing as a great alternative to them since they will get flexible hours and can use their own cars," he said. "When you drive a taxi, you have to pay a base fee and add-on costs so that in the first few hours of driving, you're just trying to make back the money you've paid; to recover costs.
"Ride-sharing means you can be your own boss."
GoCar will be accessible through the GoCatch app. Considering GoCatch already has a user base of around 350,000, this provides a strong platform for the new ride-sharing service to be launched on.
You can download the GoCatch app over at the company's official website.