Uber remains the ridesharing heavyweight champion in Australia, but other options have begun to crop up looking for a share of the millions of Aussies looking for a ride every year. While different overseas markets have developed their own major players in the ridesharing space, can any of the new contenders (or homegrown underdogs) upset Uber’s balance of power in the market? We look at five alternatives to Uber available for download now.
Originally hailing from India, where it holds anywhere between 60-80% of the ridesharing market depending on who you ask, Ola made Australia its first overseas market in 2018 and has been making inroads positioning itself as an affordable option compared to competitors.
Currently offering up to 50% off rides for the first two weeks for new users (to a max of $10 per trip), Ola is working hard to attract new users to its service given that prices are similar to Uber. The app includes a discount field when you book your ride, allowing riders to take advantage of the offers which pop up in its notification section. Of the apps included in this feature, Ola was the only one to offer these discounts right off the bat upon signup.
Operating in most major Australian cities including Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Perth, Brisbane and now the Gold Coast (with extra incentives in its newest landing spot), ride seekers can use the aforementioned offers to get 20% off their fare to and from the airport up to $50 when looking to hit one of these cities.
After conquering the market in China to the point where Uber had to either withdraw or merge with the Chinese company (they merged), DiDi has set its sights on Australia with a view to offer consistently lower prices on its trips than the established players in the field, with minimum fares and distance fares priced solidly below Uber standards.
Launched locally in 2018, DiDi and now services Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Geelong, Newcastle, Brisbane,Ballarat, Bendigo, Bunbury, Bundaberg, Busselton, Cairns, The Central Coast, Coffs Harbour, Gladstone, Harvey Bay, Mackay, Port Macquarie, Rockhampton, Shepparton, Toowoomba, Wagga Wagga, Wollongong, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.
DiDi does implement similar surge pricing to the other main Uber-alikes in Ola and Bolt. Considering its dedication to undercutting the cost of Uber and other similarly priced competitors however, there is value to be had for price-conscious customers looking for a ride in its service areas.
Riders who refer new customers can also score in-app DiDi points to use on discounts to ride for both themselves and their buddy.
Update: Bolt left the Australian market in 2020.
Originally called Taxify, Bolt originated in Estonia and after building a solid following in Europe, expanded to Australia to take on the might of Uber in 2017.
Currently operating in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, Bolt charges similar prices to Uber with the added advantage of potentially lower cancellation fees (as low as $5 vs the standard $10 for Uber) for riders who might find themselves needing to back out of their ride. Booking fees are similar, with Bolt asking slightly more based on the length of the trip – the minimum fee remains the same.
Like Ola, Bolt offers in-app discount codes. Bolt’s solid head start on other ridesharing industry disruptors and similar interface and function to Uber have given it the opportunity to be the first to land a hit on the major player, with 112,000 users opting to use the service once every three months (on average) in 2018. While this pales in comparison to Uber, it shows that competition in the industry may be headed in the right direction.
Looking to even the playing field for taxis following the huge hit to the industry after Uber’s entry into the market, 13cabs offers an app-based booking system which is, at its face, comparable to rideshare disruptors while leveraging the sizable fleet of existing taxis across Australia.
Riders the ability to book their choice of taxi, from Silver Service to Maxi Taxi – this includes wheelchair accessible taxis, an element that ridesharing competitors are yet to provide as substantially. Included during the booking process is a fare estimate system similar to that used by Uber and other competitors in the space, an option not normally available when hailing a cab down on the side of the street.
Also integrated within the app is 13cabs' phone line precursor, which provides the added option of talking to a real live person when booking or tracking a taxi trip.
A new player in the ridesharing space, Shebah offers a unique point of difference by positioning their service as an all-female network of drivers and passengers. Available in most major cities, the service is an Australian startup looking to offer customers the ability to travel with confidence knowing that their driver will be female, along with eschewing the surge pricing common across its ridesharing competitors.
Riders can request a capsule or toddler seat for an additional cost (an option matched only occasionally by Bolt), and have access to discounts available through the in-app promotions screen similarly to Ola and Bolt.
While Shebah does not yet offer the option of paying via Paypal, and its smaller pool of drivers may favor booking trips in advance to ensure availability, this fledgling Australian-grown option fills a need that other ridesharing services can’t match within the industry and looks to have a solid foundation to grow upon.
Ola, DiDi, Bolt, 13cabs and Shebah are all available for download on iPhone and Android today.
This article was originally published in 2019 by Michael Serban and updated in February 2021 by Fergus Halliday.