RING A RABBIT: Rideshare business changes Grafton's gears
MARK Ruthven was a taxi driver in Grafton for almost a decade, but a bold idea to rethink the way the town's residents got around put him behind a different wheel.
At the start of this year as ride-sharing companies such as Uber continued to dominate the passenger-transport industry, Mr Ruthven was in the fledgling stages of a plan to bring rideshare to Grafton.
Eight months down the track, Rabbit Rideshare is a four-car-strong fleet servicing Grafton and surrounds.
Mr Ruthven said although his company and Uber shared their role as rideshare businesses, the similarity stopped there.
"They have formulas to calculate their rate," he said.
"We've eliminated that - we are keeping it simple so there is no confusion and everybody knows what they're up for.
"Irrespective of traffic on the bridge, or an accident, we absorb that. Our margins are tight, but it's still viable."
Rabbit Rideshare customers get a fixed rate, which means a trip from Grafton to the south side of the river will cost $15 regardless of how backed up traffic gets on the bridge.
A trip to the Grafton airport from Grafton is $40, or $55 from Junction Hill.
The service will take passengers beyond the Valley to the Coffs Harbour or Ballina airports, Yamba and Maclean.
Mr Ruthven said since the business came to town, customers who would otherwise have opted to walk or use public transport weredeciding to "ring a Rabbit".
Two months in and Mr Ruthven said there was opportunity to expand to other areas in the Clarence Valley, but his initial focus was on building a client base in Grafton.
"It's always in the back of my mind, but part of the business model I built is I wanted Grafton to adopt Rabbit Rideshare and know it has a local, independent owner," he said.