29/05/2018 - 15:43

Uber plans regional expansion

29/05/2018 - 15:43

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A new Perth headquarters and driver support hub have been established to support further growth for Uber as it targets regional centres such as Bunbury and Busselton.

Uber plans regional expansion
Kate Debenham says Uber is exploring options to expand into regional areas of WA in the second half of 2018. Photo: Attila Csaszar

A new Perth headquarters and driver support hub have been established to support further growth for Uber as it targets regional centres such as Bunbury and Busselton.

The ridesharing company landed in Perth in 2014, starting out of a Bedford bowls club where a team of four were tasked with building local operations from the ground up, and later shifting into a space in Subiaco.

Uber’s Perth team now comprises more than 40 staff and its growth, boosted by the launch of its Uber Eats business in Perth 18 months ago, has prompted the move to a larger corporate office at the recently completed Hibernian Place.

Also new is the Greenlight Hub, a 1,600 square metre purpose-built partner support centre in Osborne Park.

Uber state manager Kate Debenham, who joined November last year, said the two properties were products of the company’s commitment to growing the business in Western Australia.

“In Perth we’ve got half a million regular Uber riders, about 6,000 drivers and more than 1,000 restaurants on the platform,” Ms Debenham told Business News.

“We’re looking to continue to grow that and how we can open up the rest of the state.”

The 490sqm tenancy at Hibernian Place, the fitout for which was designed by Geyer Architects, houses a team responsible for a range of operations including stakeholder engagement, supply and demand monitoring, incident management and product development. 

The Greenlight Hub in Osborne Park has been set up as a drop-in centre for drivers, delivery and restaurant partners, with suites for accreditation medicals and warehouse space for third-party vendors such as vehicle rental providers and vehicle inspections.

The hub will also host fortnightly roundtable feedback sessions and facilitate face-to-face support.

Ms Debenham said the arrival of other ridesharing players to the Perth market, including Ola, Shebah, Karru and GoCatch earlier this year had not deterred Uber’s plans for additional expansion.

“Competition is a natural part of any industry and ridesharing is no different; we were just fortunate in some ways that we were a first mover,” she said.

“WA and South Australia are the only states where we’re just in the capital cities, so we’re starting to think about how we can make the platform available in the regional centres.

“Bunbury and Busselton are the most obvious options, largely due to population, but we’re certainly looking at all the major centres down south.

“There are a small number of taxi companies, but our biggest source of competition in those markets is really private car ownership.”

Also on Uber’s 2018 agenda is its ongoing negotiation to reduce the proposed 10 per cent levy on all on-demand transport to 5 per cent, with the state government still drafting its legislation to regulate the market.

With ridesharing operators banned from Optus Stadium in January, Ms Debenham said the company had since continued its talks with the venue to link to its broader traffic management plans.

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