New Uber Pets trial begins – but comes at an extra price
Exclusive: Uber is giving customers more choice if they want to travel with their furry friend - but it comes at a price.
The global rideshare company is launching its new feature Uber Pet from Tuesday, which will be trialled in Sydney and Brisbane for the first time before being rolled out nationally.
Any domesticated animal is welcome subject to the driver's discretion when they book a ride through their app.
Riders must be control their pet while on the trip and for cats and dogs, they strongly encourage the use of a leash or harness. All other animals must be contained in an enclosed pet carrier.
But the new luxury will come with a surcharge of $6-$7 which will not apply to those with assistance dogs who can continue using their regular Uber option.
Uber Australia and New Zealand General Manager Dom Taylor told News Corp the surcharge was necessary as drivers should be rewarded and compensated for the extra effort that can go into transporting a non-service animal.
"This Uber Pet surcharge will also provide an additional earnings opportunity for drivers," he said.
"The extra cost is comparable to upgrading from UberX to Comfort on a trip from Redfern to Bondi in Sydney, or West End to Windsor in Brisbane."
Mr Taylor said they chose to launch Uber Pets in greater Sydney and Brisbane as they are two of Uber's most established local markets.
The option will apply to those living in Sydney including the bottom of the Royal National Park in the south, west to the Blue Mountains and north to bottom of the Brisbane Water National Park.
In Brisbane it will cover rides to the bottom of Loganholme, north to Caboolture and west to Ipswich.
"We felt that we'd learn the most by trialling in these two cities," he said.
"Plus, public transport in these two cities can be pet unfriendly (whereas in Victoria dogs are allowed on trains).
"For many pet owners, especially those without their own car, taking their pets with them to visit friends, go to a dog beach, or even get to a vet in a hurry can be a real challenge."
Uber drivers have been notified of the new option since February and they have had a chance to opt-out.
"We envision this as primarily a product for cats and dogs," Mr Taylor said.
"For example if a driver deems an animal to be unsafe or the rider has multiple animals, drivers may choose to cancel the trip.
"The general expectation is that drivers that stay opted-in for Uber Pet trips will accommodate a rider's animal in reasonable scenarios."
Primary schoolteacher Yvette Cormack, 28, from Paddington in Sydney, told News Corp she would use the Uber Pet option to take her one-year-old cavoodle Leilani to dog-friendly parks, pubs, the vet and daycare.
"We have a car but living in an area where parking is limited you don't want to lose your spot," she said.
"It's easier to take an Uber when you do the pick-up and drop-off at daycare as it can be a logistics nightmare with a car if there is nowhere to park.
"It makes it easier for you to be with your dog when you need to spend quality time with them."