Drivers asked to go without a car in Uber experiment

Fifty Australian drivers will be challenged to give up their cars for a month and replace driving with ride-share trips, rental cars, e-bikes and scooter rides as part of a social experiment.

Uber unveiled its One Less Car trial on Wednesday, revealing it would work with behavioural researchers as well as micro-mobility firms Lug + Carrie and Lime to test whether it was possible and cheaper to replace car ownership with services.

Each participant will receive $1300 in transport “credits” to fund new travel methods.

The trial will come after a survey of more than 1000 Australians found almost half were concerned about road congestion but almost as many planned to buy another car within two years.

Uber Australia general manager Dom Taylor said the experiment was “many, many years in the making” and was designed to challenge the idea Australians needed to own a car for everyday transport.

“There is going to be a gradual shift, we think, away from car ownership over the next 50 years but Uber’s the sort of place where we don’t love gradual shifts – we like step changes,” he said.

“There is a mind-boggling problem that Australia faces and that is the 15 million cars that Aussies own that sit idle 95 per cent of the time that are causing holes in our cities and our wallets.”

Uber will recruit participants from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra for the trial, and ask them to give up at least one of the cars in their household.

Each participant will receive more than $1300 in travel credits to use on public transport, Uber rides, short-term Uber Car Share rentals, e-bikes or e-scooters through Lime, and cargo e-bikes from Lug + Carrie.

Each person must fill out a journal about their experience and wear a fitness tracker to determine whether they exercise more.

Mr Taylor said data compiled in the trial would be analysed by researchers at The Behavioural Architects, and shared with academics and government agencies.

“I think it’s going to highlight there are many use cases where it makes a lot of sense (to go without a car) and there are still some areas and specific use cases where it’s going to be hard,” he said.

“The Aussie one-car-one-person mentality is deep and people love their cars. There is a huge psychological change (involved).”

A survey for Uber by Censuswide recently found 69 per cent of people were concerned about the cost of owning a car, 43 per cent were concerned about their impact on the environment, but 42 per cent planned to buy another car in the next two years.

Lime Australia general manager Hugo Burt-Morris said more motorists were replacing car trips with e-bike and e-scooter rides but he hoped the trial would spread the message further.

“There are alternatives out there that are more cost-effective than having a car,” he said.

“Being able to show that to people through other people they can relate to would be really fantastic.”


Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson
(Australian Associated Press)


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