Uber be­hind trans­port jobs growth

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWS - CAMERON WHITE­LEY

UBER’S surg­ing pop­u­lar­ity is be­hind the dra­matic growth of the trans­port sec­tor in Greater Ho­bart.

That is the view of de­mog­ra­pher Bernard Salt, who has out­lined his find­ings in re­search com­mis­sioned by the Mer

cury for its Fu­ture Tas­ma­nia series.

Mr Salt found there had been a 23 per cent in­crease in the trans­port, postal and ware­hous­ing sec­tor in Ho­bart in the 2017-18 fi­nan­cial year.

This com­pared to a na­tional growth rate of 17 per cent in the same time.

“Aus­tralians have em­braced Uber,’’ Mr Salt said.

“That next gen­er­a­tion has seen it as con­ve­nient and are very com­fort­able in that space, us­ing an app and jump­ing in and ef­fec­tively shar­ing a car.

“There is also the ar­gu­ment that peo­ple find it a great way to earn ex­tra in­come, so it’s some­thing that can be worked as a side hus­tle.”

Mr Salt pre­dicted the rate of growth to steady.

“It’s com­ing off a low base,’’ he said.

“It’s cer­tainly carved out a niche in the Aus­tralian mar­ket and yet again it shows Ho­bart and Tas­ma­nia is on board.”

Uber started in Aus­tralia in 2012 and launched in Ho­bart four years later.

Mean­while, food de­liv­ery ser­vice Uber Eats launched in Ho­bart last year.

Tas­ma­nia’s first Uber driver was Hans Willink, whose very first ride was state Premier Will Hodg­man, in De­cem­ber 2016.

Mr Willink, a for­mer Army lo­gis­tics of­fi­cer, IT con­sul­tant and fre­quent po­lit­i­cal can­di­date, told the Mer­cury yes­ter­day he turned to Uber as part of a pre-re­tire­ment tran­si­tion.

“Ini­tially, it was rea­son­ably lu­cra­tive,’’ the 61-year-old said.

But he said there were now many more Uber driv­ers on the roads.

Mr Willink, who drives most days, said he had heard “anec­do­tally” there were be­tween 500 and 600 driv­ers in the Ho­bart area.

“They may not all be ac­tive but, as most peo­ple would be aware, they are on vir­tu­ally ev­ery street cor­ner, and you only have to wait a minute or two in Ho­bart to catch an Uber,’’ he said.

“The flip side to that is the work is sparser and much harder to get from a driver’s per­spec­tive.”

Mr Willink said he en­joyed the work and meet­ing new peo­ple.

“It’s like go­ing to a party and meet­ing a bunch of peo­ple, just without the al­co­hol,’’ he said.

Uber would not con­firm how many driv­ers it had on its books in Tas­ma­nia.

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