Taxi app platform GoCatch has launched its own ridesharing service, GoCar, to compete directly with Uber.
GoCatch CEO Ned Moorfield said the launch of GoCar is in response to the reforms the NSW government made to the point to point transport industry at the end of last year, which saw ridesharing services such as Uber recognised as a legal service.
"We've been in this point to point transport market since we launched in 2011 but we've gone about doing that via taxi drivers. But with the changing regulations in Australia, it's serving a whole new path to the market that we have not been able to go into previously, and it's actually a fairly straightforward adoption of the existing platform to roll this out," he said.
He added that regulatory reforms also pave the way for the company to be a strong competitor to Uber in the local market, highlighting how major domestic competitors overseas have been successful. These included Didi Kuaidi in China; Lyft in the United States; Grab in Southeast Asia; and Ola Cabs in India.
GoCar will operate alongside GoCatch's existing taxi-booking service, and will give users the option when they launch the app to order a taxi, or choose the GoCar option. Much similar to the Uber app, users will be able to track when a driver is en-route to their location, and pay the driver via the app by entering and saving their credit card details or linking their PayPal account.
However, Moorfield said there are a few key differentiators between GoCar and Uber, which he believes will give it a competitive advantage, such as a no surge pricing policy and drivers only have to pay the company a 15 percent commission versus Uber's 20 percent commission.
"We generally think people hate surge pricing; they see it for what it is which is just complete profiteering by Uber. We don't believe it really has a lot to do with matching supply and demand. Drivers have to generally plan in advance when they're going to be on the road, so they're not going to just jump on the road all of a sudden. So we're going with a really set, well-defined peak and off-peak rates," he said.
Additionally, Moorfield claimed GoCar will be 20 to 30 percent cheaper than a taxi during off-peak periods and 10 to 15 percent cheaper than a taxi during peak periods.
Moorfield rejected the idea that GoCar would take business away from existing taxi drivers using GoCatch, arguing it will in fact bring in more business for them.
"We know ridesharing is going to attract a lot more passengers onto our platform, and a lot of the work will overflow onto taxi drivers. We think taxi drivers on our platform will broadly be a lot busier and will make more money when they're using GoCatch," he said.
"The other thing is we're absolutely opening this up to taxi drivers to drive their personal vehicles as ridesharing drivers, and around half of our existing sign ups of GoCar drivers are actually current or ex-taxi drivers. The taxi drivers are taking this model up in large numbers."
When asked what the process has been for onboarding drivers, Moorfield reassured all of its drivers have undergone appropriate background checks.
"In NSW they have a system where drivers can get from the regulators a drive authority card, and to get that they go through a national police check and driver history check. For a good number of our drivers, they already have these driver authority cards," he said.
"We get details on insurance to make sure vehicles are adequately insured, and then we also inspect their vehicle to make sure they meet basic conditions. Those drivers are pretty much good to go soon after.
"For drivers that don't have a driver authority card, we require further proof of ID; we do a 100 point ID check and then a national police check via a third-party, and we also request for their driver history. We will either do it, or the NSW government will do the accreditation piece. We won't let drivers on the platform who have their licence suspended, cancelled, or those with remotely serious criminal history."
GoCar will initially service Sydney's inner west, eastern suburbs, and CBD, with Moorfield adding there are plans to eventually expand the service outside of Sydney.
In July last year, the NSW government launched an independent taskforce to examine the future of the state's taxi and ridesharing industries, which ultimately saw the decision to recognise ridesharing service as legal.
In legalising ridesharing, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance said at the time it will create a level playing field for the point to point transport industry in NSW.
"NSW is going to have a new transport economy," he said. "People will have more choice, better services, and better value when it comes to the point to point market."
The NSW government followed suit when the ACT became the first Australian state or territory to class Uber as legal. Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Transport Reform Shane Rattenbury said at the time the taxi industry reform is part of broader reform to public transport, coupled with a belief that it will give customers access to safe, flexible, and affordable ride-sharing services, while also reducing costs for taxi drivers, owners, and passengers.