Uber today announced Melbourne as the first international test hub for Uber Air, a proposed ride-sharing service allowing commuters to hop on an electric aircraft and blow raspberries at the traffic below.

At the company’s Elevate summit in Washington D.C., regional manager Susan Anderson announced the Victorian capital will join Dallas and Los Angeles as an Uber Air location from 2020.

Anderson said the company hopes to begin test flights next year, with an eye to open the service to commuters from 2023.

The company hopes the service will one day be as affordable as its terrestrial UberX offerings.

Uber says the project has the backing of the State Government, along with private enterprises including Melbourne Airport, Telstra, and Scentre Group, which owns and runs Westfield centres across Australia and New Zealand. 

While the dream of door-to-door air taxi services lives on, it seems Uber is currently planning to operate its intra-city flights between Melbourne Airport and major shopping centres around the city.

In a statement, Cynthia Whelan, chief strategy and business development officer over at Scentre Group, said Uber had picked them as a “preferred infrastructure partner” largely due to their “strategic locations” around town.

After all, who among us has not dreamed of flying directly from Tullamarine to Southland?

While congestion is a major issue on Melbourne’s arterial roads, Uber Air is hardly the only proposed solution. The state is moving forward with its train line from the CBD to the airport, which it states will cut travel times to the airport while removing thousands of vehicles from main roads.

Shovels are set to hit the soil on that project in 2022, a full year before Uber Air hopes to take to the skies, but the State Government states it could be finished as late as 2031.

Uber Air represents a massive gambit for the company, which has faced a rocky 2019 after tumbling share prices and protests from its drivers over pay and safety conditions. But, as a wise man once said: “we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.”

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