Popular ride-sharing app Uber is on its way to Maitland and Cessnock thanks to a strong demand for the service from local riders.
The company will expand it’s basic UberX service to the Hunter Valley from March 16.
Uber is a phone app where riders request a lift, then get picked up and transported by a nearby driver. Payment is cashless, with fares automatically charged to the rider’s credit card on file.
More than 10,000 users have opened the app in the Hunter Valley outside Newcastle to look for a ride since the app started in NSW in 2014.
But the service has only been available in Newcastle and the Central Coast since it launched in April 2016.
The Hunter expansion is part of a broader regional push by the ridesharing app, with Uber also heading to Wollongong, Townsville and Cairns on March 16.
It’s welcome news for Uber driver Martyn Barry, who lives in Cessnock but has driven for the service in Newcastle since mid-December 2016.
Mr Barry was unemployed when he started with Uber, and became a driver to earn money while managing his own workload.
“It was a real game-changer,” he said.
“I wanted to be self-employed and work to the hours I wanted to work.”
Mr Barry used to drive four to five days a week. He now has a casual job which he balances with driving two days a week.
Mr Barry said he could also see the advantage of the app for riders, particularly tourists in town for concerts.
Having worked in hotels before, Mr Barry said there was definitely a need for more transport options in the Hunter Valley.
“To supply the demand I think Uber is going to be great,” he said.
In similar sized areas to Maitland and Cessnock, the average wait time for Uber passengers is about five minutes.
To supply the demand I think Uber is going to be great.Uber driver Martyn Barry
Uber NSW general manager Henry Greenacre agreed that the service would be well utilised in Maitland and Cessnock.
“UberX has been incredibly popular with riders and drivers in Newcastle and the Central Coast and we’re excited to bring the benefits of ridesharing to Maitland and Cessnock from next month,” he said.
“We’re confident ridesharing will be a big positive for the Hunter, giving residents a new way to get from A to B as well as providing flexible income earning opportunities for those who need it.”