Others, however, are more blunt. “I drove a plumber who lived around Bankstown last Friday and he was saying to me: what lockdown? He said ‘I’ve got a business to run and I’m willing to risk the fine, I’m just ignoring it completely’.”
Apple mobility data shows a very small increase in driving in recent weeks, based on requests for directions through Apple Maps, from an eight-day average of 55.68 per cent of normal levels two weeks ago to 60.22 per cent in week to September 8. But in the week to August 18, it was 59.5 per cent, so the numbers fluctuate slightly. The figures for public transport use have stayed steady.
Drivers in the LGAs of concern are not allowed to perform jobs that take them out of their LGA, unless they are providing critical healthcare or social assistance transportation. That has taken a lot of ride share drivers off the road and squeezed supply, meaning surge pricing is still fairly common in some parts of Sydney.
Wayne Newton, who lives in the Canterbury-Bankstown LGA, has seen his Uber work dry up during the lockdown. On Friday morning when he spoke to The Sun-Herald, he hadn’t been offered a fare in two hours.
He said there was a lot of resistance to wearing masks, which are mandatory in ride shares, and of his 10 fares on Thursday, eight weren’t wearing masks.
“When they get in the Uber [they say] ‘oh mate, I’m exempt’,” Mr Newton said. “I’m not going to get into an argument with someone. Definitely the younger ones between 18 and 30, they all think it’s a joke and they just go out all the time.”
Mr Newton said in his area, which is under the harshest restrictions, there was a strong feeling that Sydney had been divided into “the haves and the have nots”, and a perception that “in the eastern suburbs you’re free to do whatever you want”.
One Uber driver from the Shire, who did not want to be identified, said he had seen more and more people taking “little risks” as the lockdown dragged on, breaking curfew or visiting their parents.
“In the beginning Uber was dead. I would go hours without a job,” he said. “Now I turn it on and I’ve got a job anywhere. I’m declining jobs because people are requesting jobs 20 mins away from where I am.”
The driver said he was taking a lot of drunk people home from small parties or gatherings. Last week he took a woman from Guildford to someone’s house where “she said she was getting her nails done”.
Mr McLaughlin said he was taking passengers on shopping trips in different areas, up to half an hour away from home. “They’re just bored, they just want to go out and do something that’s different,” he said. “Everyone’s just over Netflix.”
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