Nelson City Taxi executive director and chairman Graeme Page is skeptical of Uber’s entry to Nelson. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Uber to launch in Nelson

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Uber is set to launch in Nelson in October, but a local taxi company is warning potential drivers to be wary of the global ride-share giant.

Nelson City Taxi executive director and chairman Graeme Page says Uber may not be the lucrative cash cow it promises to be.

However, he is welcoming the move and expects his company to cope with the competition.

The San Francisco-based company says it will launch its services in Rotorua, Taupo, Napier-Hastings, New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Nelson in October, taking its number of operating cities in New Zealand to 13.

“We always expected them to come at some point, this is a bit sooner than we thought but we are ready,” Graeme says.

However, he doesn’t believe drivers will make able to make a comfortable living.

“What they will find is that other than on Friday, Saturday night, there is not much happening, I will be surprised if they can actually make any money.”

He says the smaller population will mean smaller profits.

“The only way they will make money is with volume and there is no high volume in Nelson.”

Graeme says Uber struggles to survive outside the big cities.

“Anywhere they have gone in regional Australia or America, taxi companies are still going strong.”

Nelson City Taxis launched its own app “ihail” at the beginning of the year.

“I want Nelson to have both apps and then they can compare.”

He says with ihail, customers have the option to enter credit card details and will not be stung with any surcharge.

Security is another concern of Graeme’s, who says a lack of cameras puts riders at risk.

“We have them, so we can have the ride checked.”

Graeme says driver vetting process is not nearly thorough enough.

He says any new driver in his fleet has to undergo 20 hours minimum training, followed by an induction process.

Graeme says Nelson City Taxis is looking to grow its fleet and believes the business will continue to grow.

“We are not going away,” Graeme says.

Uber New Zealand country manager Amanda Gilmore says the launch will give more Kiwis access to “convenient and affordable transport”.

Gilmore says the company had “faith in NZ as a market that can succeed in the world of ride-sharing”.