New legislation looking to increase taxi fares and impose annual fees on ride-share providers is seen as a step in the right direction, but the taxi union says it still falls short on levelling the industry’s playing field.
The On-Demand Passenger Transport Services Industry Bill 2020 will be introduced to state parliament this week and will suspend the release of new owner-operator taxi licences for another four years.
Under the legislation taxi fares will increase by five per cent, but it’s unlikely to affect customers as credit card surcharges will be also reduced by five per cent.
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Australian Taxi Drivers Association president Michael Jools said the fare increase would improve conditions for the drivers and the legislation was a step in the right direction, but taxi drivers were still disadvantaged.
He said the licence suspension prevented more taxis, but did nothing to limit the number of ride-share vehicles on the road.
“I think what they’re doing in Tasmania is bringing it up to a more or less equal legislative function across Australia, and that’s good, but I think it still puts the taxis at a severe disadvantage,” he said.
“Taxis will still be burdened with a huge amount of costs that keep the fares up and the benefit to the drivers down, which are not equal to what the ride-sourcing vehicles have to perform. That’s probably the big issue that there’s no limit and there’s no real level playing ground.
“For the taxi driver … he’s basically got to jump in the car and do a 12-hour shift and pay about $100 to the owner of the vehicle. He’s already behind the eight ball when he starts. The ride-share driver goes in and starts making the same amount of money, but without any sort of extra costs to him and I think that’s still unfair.”
Mr Jools said in order to equal the playing field there were plans to launch a national taxi app, to eliminate booking costs and link up all the independent companies, and for insurance premiums to switch to a per occupied kilometre basis.
Under the proposed legislation, ride-share drivers will be regulated to ensure they are suitable, vehicles will also be regulated to ensure they are safe to carry passengers and companies will have to pay annual fees based on their number of ride-share vehicles.
An Uber Australia spokesperson did not comment on the introduced annual fee but said the company was already committed to the safety of customers and road users. With GPS tracking of each ride and vehicles requiring a five star ANCAP safety vehicle rating.
“We welcome the Tasmanian Government’s announcement that the state’s 2016 decision to legalise ride-share will find a permanent home in a bill to be introduced this week.
“With the rest of the industry, we participated in the Tasmanian Government’s consultation process leading up to the bill,” they said.
“Ride-share is an important part of the Tasmanian transport mix, helping tens of thousands of Tasmanians get from A to B, from Hobart to Launceston, Devonport and Burnie.”
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