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Uber set to be legalised in NSW while taxi drivers will be compensated for increased competition

A few months after the ACT announced it would be regulating Uber as part of a set of wider transport reforms, the NSW Government is set to do the same. Sydney’s Daily Telegraph has reported that, under new regulations, Uber drivers will be required to pay a licence fee to drive for the service, while taxi drivers will be compensated for the increased competition in the industry.

According to the Telegraph, the cost of taxi plates will be reduced, while taxis will keep exclusive rights to ‘rank and hail’ services, that is, picking up passengers from taxi ranks and from the street.

Meanwhile, costs will increase on the Uber side: as well as paying licence fees, Uber drivers will have to take their cars in for frequent safety checks. With safety a concern, the Government will also be screening drivers, denying licences to those with a criminal record.

The proposed reforms are similar to those which came into effect in the ACT in October. Acknowledging ahead of Uber’s launch in Canberra that “new business models” would put pressure on the city’s taxi drivers and owners, the Government announced it would be slashing taxi license fees in half from $20,000 to $10,000 in 2016, and then halving them again in 2017, with annual license fees for hire cars also set to be reduced.

Meanwhile, ridesharing drivers in the ACT must seek accreditation and be registered, a process that includes undergoing criminal and driving history checks, while their vehicles must be checked for safety and fully insured under customised policies.

The Government stated that “this innovative structure will see all business models regulated similarly and allow drivers (from taxis, hire cars and rideshare) the potential to accept bookings from more than one [taxi booking service].”

While the Telegraph has reported that the new regulations will be unveiled in NSW next month, Premier Mike Baird told 2GB this morning that it would be “hasty” to say Uber will be legalised by the end of the year, saying that the findings of an independent report are still being considered.

Responding on ABC Radio, Opposition Leader Luke Foley criticised the Government for taking dragging its feet on Uber regulations. Foley has been calling for the Government to regulate sharing economy services such as Uber and Airbnb for months, saying in his budget reply speech in June that the Government is “defying reality” by pretending that the sharing economy is illegal or “could be fined out of existence.”

“It won’t be, it can’t be. It’s here to stay, let’s regulate it in the public interest. The people have voted with their feet: a million ride sharing trips in Sydney last year. That number will only grow,” he said.

 





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