My recent experience when returning to Australia for Spring Break (I'm an expat Aussie in Silicon Valley) gives me no reason to not entirely support Uber in busting open the monopolistic taxi industry.
I caught five taxis in five days in Australia and here are some of my experiences:
- Taxi driver at Brisbane airport didn't activate the meter on short job to nearby hotel, and then claimed trip cost $25 when it should cost about $12-$15 (argument ensued) — probably illegal;
- Taxi driver on short trip in Manly, Sydney look an obviously longer route to a nearby destination, adding ~20% to cost of fare — probably illegal;
- After booking a taxi online for a short journey (i.e. $), it took ~30 mins for the cab to arrive, yet cabs arrived twice within ~10 mins on lengthy jobs (i.e. $$$) — probably not illegal but definitely terrible service.
And that's before we talk about dilapidated, smelly, mechanically unsound vehicles or the occasionally outright rude driver.
Interestingly, the cleanest and most well driven taxi I caught happened to have as a driver a guy who used the Uber app and that of a local competitor. He advised me that the taxi companies were "actively discouraging" drivers from using apps such as Uber.
If the taxi industry didn't lie, cheat and steal from their customers then they might get some sympathy. For me, I hope Uber wins.
Update, 2017: I ditched Uber for Lyft. At the time of writing, Uber cannot be trusted.