A new transport service will begin operating in Port Stephens from Thursday when ride-sharing company Go Buggy launches in the area.
Go Buggy will be the first ride-sharing service to operate in Port Stephens, with rival company and giant in the industry, Uber, only offering drop off and not pick up services outside of Newcastle.
“There has been a huge demand from drivers and passengers in Port Stephens and Hunter Valley,” Simon Robinson, founder and director of Go Buggy, said.
“Go Buggy is a regional transport provider, we largely operate in regional towns around Australia. We help supplement the demands in those areas.”
The ride-sharing concept, where a passenger travels in a private vehicle driven by its owner for a fee, typically arranged through a website or app, has surged in the past six to eight years with advances in technology helping companies connect with customers in new ways.
The launch of ride-sharing in Port Stephens will expand the public’s transport options, which has in the past been limited to taxis and buses.
Nick Abrahim, deputy chief executive officer at the NSW Taxi Council, said Port Stephens Taxis has a strong record in the area and believed it would continue to provide a high standard of service once Go Buggy was launched.
“Port Stephens Taxis has a very good business operation,” Mr Abrahim said. “They provide a great service for the area.
“The NSW Taxi Council and the NSW taxi industry welcomes the competition from ride-sharing companies entering the market.
“We don’t have an issue with the competition, but we do think government reforms has made it too easy for operators to establish these companies.
“We strive to provide a top level of service and following stringent regulations, which ride-sharing companies are not bound by.
“We want customers to be the winners but we always
want to make sure they are receiving the best in standards and services.”
Mr Robinson, who had been a driver for Uber in Sydney, and his business partner Cath Savy founded Go Buggy about 18 months ago.
Building on the Uber model for ride-sharing, Mr Robinson established Go Buggy to cover regional towns and cities in Australia, and included other services passengers were asking for such as the ability to pay drivers in cash.
Uber only allow passengers to pay using a debit or credit card linked to their online account.
“I thought this [ride-sharing service] is something that could be easily replicated in other areas that Uber doesn't operate,” Mr Robinson said.
“And we could provide the services Uber don't offer like riders picking the type of vehicle, being able to book ahead, selecting your driver and having a call centre so you can talk to somebody.
“We implemented all these things passengers wanted and launched them into regional areas.”
Go Buggy started in Coffs Harbour and expanded to Port Macquarie, Wagga Wagga, Albury/Wodonga.
Port Stephens is part of the next expansion alongside the Hunter Valley, Newcastle and Central Coast.
Mr Robinson said Go Buggy had five drivers on board and were ready to begin driving in Port Stephens on Thursday.
“There's a great deal of excitement in the area,” he said.
“We have had a number of Uber drivers come on board because they want to drive in Port Stephens.
“Previously, they had to go into Newcastle to drive.”
To book a ride Port passengers can use the Go Buggy app, visit gobuggy.com.au or phone the Australia-based call centre on 1300 GO BUGGY (1300 462 844).