Uber driver Gary Smith loves to be able to meet exciting new people in his job as an uber driver on the Northern Rivers.
Uber driver Gary Smith loves to be able to meet exciting new people in his job as an uber driver on the Northern Rivers. Marc Stapelberg

Uber driving, more than just a taxi service

CASINO local Gary Smith has experienced it all working as an Uber driver, yet it was a conversation with a passenger four years ago that he will never forget.

"When I first started, I had a young girl and she had told me she was having suicidal thoughts," Mr Smith said.

"Most trips are roughly 20 minutes or so, so it's all small talk, (but) this was a long trip and we got into quite a deep conversation.

"I implemented suicidal first-aid, and she ended up being okay, but that was an experience from early on in my Uber days that is a stand out."

The small-business owner who ran a men's group for 25 years said it was the social side of Uber that he enjoyed the most.

"I drop my wife off at work in Ballina each morning and go from there," Mr Smith said, travelling everywhere from Gold Coast airport down to Byron, and out to Lismore.

Uber, which arrived in Australia in 2012, now has over one million Australian riders using the app.

Although only a handful of drivers are currently operating throughout the Northern Rivers region, Mr Smith suggested locals should "give it a go".

"It's the old adage: less drivers means less riders, more drivers means more riders," Mr Smith said.

"It's a choice; if you don't agree with the ethics don't do it.

"(The drivers) spend the money we earn locally - on petrol especially," he said.

"If we don't deliver good service, it's reflected in our rating - unlike taxies which work for a company, we're working for ourselves."

With more locals getting involved, as well as drivers from the Gold Coast making more trips south, the need for more drivers is on the rise.

"My advice to anyone wanting to become a driver is to enjoy yourself and drive safely, that's the most important thing."

If you or someone you know needs support with their mental health, please contact one of these support organisations:

. Lifeline 24/7: 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au

. Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467 or suicidecallbackservice.org.au

. MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78 or mensline.org.au