For years we have been promised flying cars – and now that futuristic dream could become a reality, with the announcement that Melbourne will be a pilot city for Uber Air, a transport service that will allow Melburnians to travel via “flying taxis”.
The announcement was made at the company’s Elevate summit in Washington after Uber sealed partnerships with Melbourne Airport and companies Macquarie, the Scentre Group and Telstra.
The multinational transportation company already boasts 3.8 million Australians who regularly use Uber as a reliable way to travel and is now teaming up with the Victorian Government to bring Uber Air to life, with test flights expected to begin in 2020.
Susan Anderson, regional general manager for Uber in Australia, New Zealand and North Asia, said the Victorian Government had been “highly supportive” of bringing Uber Air to Melbourne, recognising the “important role ride-sharing plays in the future of transport in our cities”.
This, “coupled with Melbourne’s unique demographic and geospatial factors, and culture of innovation and technology, makes Melbourne the perfect third launch city for Uber Air” alongside Dallas and Los Angeles, Ms Anderson said.
“We will see other Australian cities following soon after.”
The introduction of flight as an urban travel option is intended to alleviate the chronic traffic congestion faced by cities worldwide.
The global head of Uber Elevate, Eric Allison, said: “The heavy reliance on private car ownership will not be sustainable.
“Uber Air holds enormous potential to help reduce road congestion.
“For example, the 19-kilometre journey from the CBD to Melbourne Airport can take anywhere from 25 minutes to an hour by car in peak hour, but with Uber Air this will take around 10 minutes.”
It is understood that the Uber Air trips will match the prices of UberX trips over the same distance.
Uber’s introduction of the flight-facilitated service has garnered mixed reactions on social media.
Uber has named Melbourne as one of 3 cities for its aerial taxi trial. Looks like this has been brokered by Vic Government. Council certainly not party to any agreement. Our CBD, Docklands and East Melb residents are going to be… less than thrilled. https://t.co/qsxH6bqSDY
No exact locations have been announced for Uber Air bases in Melbourne, but the company’s partnership with Scentre, which owns and operates Westfield shopping centres, could make the retail giant a top contender for take-offs.
The Uber Air concept is expected to become a reality for commercial use by 2023. – @IndiBrum, additional reporting by Georgia McMillan