Aside from public transport, if you want to travel around the city without your own set of wheels; you could be walking, cycling or on the phone to a taxi company trying to describe exactly where it is you are standing. Sounds rather difficult in an unfamiliar town after a couple of beverages, right? 

Lucky for us, technology exists and now smartphone users are just a download and a couple of clicks away from getting picked up and delivered to their next destination safe and sound. New Zealand now has a few ride-share taxi alternatives available including Uber, Zoomy and Blue Bubble. 

How do they work? 

  • A dedicated smartphone app shows available cars in your area.
  • You enter your pick-up point and destination – sometimes the pickup location is automatically determined through GPS location services. 
  • You’re given an estimate of the trip’s cost, and possible route options. Generally the fastest route is given preference.
  • After you agree with the price, you’re matched with a driver and given their details. This can include vehicle make and model, number plate and the drivers name and number.
  • You can cancel the request before they arrive if you’re not happy with the match, but you will have to make another booking and beware you may also be charged for cancelling the booking. The driver also has the option to cancel.
  • Once you’re in the passenger seat, only then will the driver know your destination.
  • Payment is made automatically through the app via credit card or PayPal.

 It also pays to note that sometimes extra fees apply in peak/surge times such as concerts or events. Always check the price before clicking confirm.

 The major win for these app-based ride-sharing platforms is the amount of information provided. You can see exactly how far away your ride is, the rough cost and even follow your journey in live time. No more waiting and wondering when that taxi is finally going to show up…

 These apps are in many ways similar to Airbnb where you mutually rate each other. After your trip, you can rate the driver using a five-star system. Be aware they can also rate you after a trip so be on your best behaviour!

 Ride-sharing legislation

 Under legislation which came into effect in October 2017, both ride shares and taxi companies will be regulated as “small passenger services”.

 Small passenger service companies must:

  • Ensure all drivers hold a current “P” (passenger) endorsement and a current New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) identification card
  • Ensure all drivers comply with work-time and logbook requirements
  • Ensure all small passenger service vehicles have a certificate of fitness (CoF)
  • Keep records of these things, as well as any complaints
  • Report any serious improper behavior by drivers to the NZTA and assist with any enforcement investigations.

Real world street test

Once lunchtime hunger set in, we decided to put two ride-sharing apps against a popular taxi company in a journey to a Thai restaurant across town. Armed with a couple of smartphones and a crisp $20 note for the taxi, we were on our way. So how did they compare? 

  • Ride-share 1 - $7.21
  • Ride-share 2 - $8.51
  • Taxi - $12

So, you have a few extra dollars for your lunch… congratulations – but is it really worth it? 

Sure, every dollar saved is a dollar earned, but unless you’re a frequent customer it comes down to the ride and service itself. If you’re new to ride-sharing, reach for your iPhone and give it a go.

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