While ride-sharing services like Uber are usually restricted to metropolitan areas, there could be a need for it in Tamworth every January, when thousands of country music-loving fans descend upon the city.
The Tamworth Business Chamber wants to open the discussion about using a sharing economy approach to create more opportunities for both business and customers in Tamworth.
The chamber made it clear it was not backing Uber, a multi-national company, to come to the city, but said there could be room for a local ride-sharing initiative similar to Uber.
In Australia, ride-sharing services are usually located in capital cities or metropolitan areas such as Newcastle – but Uber has expanded its service to the regional centres of Byron Bay, Lismore, Ballina and the surrounding Northern Rivers region, due to the high number of tourists.
While Tamworth may not have the population or tourism to sustain a full-time ride sharing service all year, an opportunistic business might be able to fill the transport demand during the Country Music Festival – the city has a fleet of 26 taxis to service more than 100,000 tourists.
“If a local operator was to start up a similar service [to Uber] during TCMF and it was a success, then this could be a foundation for other peak times and eventually complement Tamworth’s existing transport network of taxis and buses as the city continues to grow,” Tamworth Business Chamber’s marketing and memberships manager Jill Stewart said.
“During TCMF the $10 a day bus pass offered by council has definitely eased congestion during the festival, but a local service like Uber would support this, by perhaps running services later into the night and being more readily available if required, in particular during the busy last weekend.
“Another simple, possibly more feasible sharing economy option, would be to look at bringing in more taxis and cars from say, Armidale to service Festival goers during the busiest times.”
Ms Stewart said a local ride-sharing service would not replace the existing transport options.
“It’s about providing more options that can draw new visitors to the festival, visitors who simply expect this would be part of something as big as TCMF,” she said.
“This is where a local service like Uber would really add value.”
The Leader contacted both Uber and Tamworth Taxis, but neither responded before the time of publication.