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UBER PRICE HIKE: Australians are about to see lifts in minimum fares and a new booking fee

Uber staff track the first regulated UberX ride in Australia on October 30, 2015 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Martin Ollman/Getty Images)

SYDNEY — Uber Australia has introduced a new booking fee and a hike in the minimum fare for rides in all mainland state capitals.

As Uber cars cannot be hailed off the street, all such rides in Australia will from June 9 have a 55 cent booking fee applied. Fifty cents will be taken by Uber while 5 cents will be left to the driver to pay the Australian Taxation Office as GST.

An Uber spokesperson said that the fee would help pay for “operational costs associated with providing a ridesharing service” and it would be itemised separately on the end-of-trip receipt.

Minimum fares will also rise on June 9, with Adelaide and Perth passengers seeing a 40% hike from $5 to $7.

Brisbane, Melbourne and Gold Coast have risen by 25% to hit $7.50, while Sydney has gone up from $8 to $9.

An Uber spokesperson said the minimum fare rise came about after round table discussions with drivers.

“We heard that an important improvement Uber could make to the driving experience would be increasing the minimum fare,” the spokesperson said.

RideShare Drivers United, a driver lobby group, welcomed the change as going in the right direction but stated the increase was so small that many drivers considered it “a slap in the face”.

“Minimum fare trips make a very small percentage of trips in most cases,” the group stated.

“This very small minimum fare increase is not really going to make much of a difference to drivers bottom line. Most drivers we talked to view this latest Uber increase as an insult.”

The drivers group said that the current distance-based rates were at “very low unsustainable levels” that left drivers with “well below minimum take home wage”.

“It is the RSDU’s view that Uber has a very long way to go… The RSDU demands that Uber proceed now ASAP and move the base rates higher to make them sustainable again,” stated the body.

The RSDU stated that if conditions didn’t improve, it would continue lobbying for change, reserving the right to take Uber Australia to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The price hikes come after Magellan Financial Group fund manager Hamish Douglass last week labelled Uber’s business model a “ponzi scheme” and predicted it would have less than 1% chance of survival in ten years’ time.

In New York City, Uber last week had to pay back “tens of millions” of dollars to drivers after it miscalculated the state tax – giving each driver an average of about $US900.

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