Taxi surge tipped for New Year’s Eve in Melbourne

New Year’s Eve Sydney: Uber under fire for inflated ‘dynamic pricing’ fares

New Year’s Eve revellers will have a plethora of transport options, with the taxi industry and its new rival, upstart start-up Uber, primed for a bumper night on Wednesday.

Uber has guaranteed drivers who are prepared to work a 10-hour shift between 6pm and 4am on this “crazy busy” night will earn at least $840, such is the ride-share company’s confidence in demand.

It is expected Uber’s surge pricing model will be enacted on the night, in which fares soar in times of high demand. Uber says its surge pricing algorithm is automatic and kicks in to ensure that supply meets demand by encouraging more drivers onto the road.

An Uber spokeswoman predicted fares would peak with demand between midnight and 3am.

“When demand exceeds supply it will come on, but it will be proportional,” she said. “It encourages drivers to be online and help meet demand, because we don’t employ any drivers, they’re all independent.”

The taxi industry is also confident it will be able to meet demand on what it says is merely its second busiest night of the year (the AFL grand final is bigger), aided by all-night trains and trams.

Stuart Overell, chief operating officer at 13Cabs, said more than 500 new taxi licences had been released since June, so a much larger army of drivers would be working compared to last year on a lucrative night for cabbies.

“With the extra 500-plus licences being released by the government in the past six months, I’d expect that to have a great impact in reducing times to get a cab to get home,” Mr Overell said.

Taxi industry regulator the Taxi Services Commission has issued 548 new licences to operate a taxi in the past six months, all but 30 of them within greater Melbourne.

Mr Overell said he expected 13Cabs’ entire fleet to be on the road on Wednesday night and all hands on deck at the company’s Oakleigh dispatch centre, with about 50 staff taking calls. Many customers would also book a ride via smartphone app, he predicted.

“We’ve got the technology now to help people no matter how they want to book a cab, through SMS or app or speaking to somebody,” he said.

Major taxi ranks in the CBD will operate at Queen Street, Bourke Street and King Street. Mr Overell said revellers should head to a rank to get a ride home rather than try to hail a cab on the street.

“Drivers prefer an orderly rank to pick people up rather than drunks on the street,” he said.

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