Gear up for Uber growth

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Uber is coming
Camera IconUber is coming Credit: AP

Direct flights from Melbourne, which start in March, could be the trigger for Uber to start operating across the Margaret River region.

Although Uber reportedly has a handful of drivers signed up in Busselton already, the ride-sharing app is expected to be among measures to address a dire shortage of transport needed once interstate tourists start hitting the region.

The news comes as the Busselton-Margaret River Tourism Association’s ex-chief executive and special projects officer Pip Close undertakes a series of workshops across the region to help businesses and operators position themselves for the visitor influx.

Ms Close said there were opportunities for new start-ups as well as established operators to cater to visitors needing transport from the airport as well as when touring the region. “There’s actually a lot of opportunities here for businesses,” she told the Times.

The City of Busselton was leading the investigation, which could include shuttles and extra tour operations, as well as limousine-type services “for high-value travellers,” Ms Close said. City of Busselton chief executive Mike Archer said the City was exploring options for hire car, shuttle bus and taxi services at the airport.

“The City is working with industry to attract transport providers to the facility,” he said.

“The MRBTA have held industry specific workshops to inform local businesses about opportunities associated with the new flight service.

“We understand that Uber is already operating within the City of Busselton.

“Other services we’ll be looking to establish at the airport include accommodation and tourist information.”

The City was unlikely to go into those businesses itself, Mr Archer said. An Uber Australia spokesman confirmed Uber had started in Busselton and Dunsborough, but could not reveal driver capacity for commercial reasons.

“Uber has been in Australia since 2012 and has the most substantial national footprint of any ride-share provider, sparking opportunities in major metros, towns and regional areas in every State and territory,” he said.

“The Uber app is available for riders in Busselton, Yallingup and Dunsborough, and this service area already includes the Busselton airport.

“Riders are able to request safe rides from any location in our service area to the Margaret River.”

Ms Close said there were opportunities for Uber to expand south once visitor numbers were proven.

“I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t go gangbusters,” she said.

Meanwhile, the City said State Government funding of $1.74 million would upgrade the temporary passenger facilities until such time as further action was taken on full terminal construction, she said.

In Parliament last week, Warren-Blackwood MLA Terry Redman again demanded that the terminal promise be honoured to support the region’s tourism and industry growth.

MRBTA co-chief executive Steve Harrison said the flights were an “exciting opportunity” to meet the expectations of new visitors in transport as well as the overall visitor experience.

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