I recently wrote about the need for the NSW Government to overhaul the taxi licencing schemes in light of new entrants in the personal transport marketplace. I wrote it after seeing a very poor piece of Government advertising that suggested that ride sharing was illegal, when in fact it sits in a loophole of legislation.
Victoria has taken a step forward in realising that the new wave of transportation cannot be stopped or turned back. The State Government has released plans to put taxis, hire cars and ride sharing under one legislative umbrella.
The initiatives level the playing field somewhat:
– The Government will spend $378M to compensate taxi drivers for the exorbitant licencing that they have been forced to pay and the Premier has committed to pay every taxi licence holder $100,000 with a further $50,000 for a second licence if applicable.
– Vehicle licencing will be simplified and made standard for all modes of paid personal transportation.
– All drivers will be tested the same way which includes passing police, medical and driving history checks as well as being subjected to ongoing criminal data matching. Taxi drivers will, however, still require ID verification though!
– the biggest change will be the structure of the fare. Taxi drivers will be allowed to use an Uber-style model of defining the fare pricing.
To compensate the taxi drivers and to remove the annual licence fee (estimated by me to be around $23,000 today), a $2 levy will be introduced on each trip, which presumably will be passed on to the passenger. This levy is estimated by the Government to bring in around $44M a year. A $75M “Fairness Fund” has been set up to help drivers through the change over of the industry model.
The Government’s plan will take over a year to implement with the levy being added into the Transport Act very soon and then being charged. The remainder of the legislation will be defined and is expected to be implemented next year (2018). This is a great step forward and I think by the end of the year we should see many other cities and States around the world adopting similar structures. It had to happen and should be good for consumers – provided there is no collusion between the industry heavyweights on fare pricing!
Since publishing this article on the Motoring Weekly Patreon page, the taxi drivers in Melbourne have been protesting the changes saying that they have paid $100,000s of dollars in taxi licences – which they would have over the years and that the current offer from the Government is not enough. It’s a difficult situation to gauge not living in Melbourne, are the drivers protesting because they really do have a rough deal or is it simply a protect against change, which is inevitable.
In NSW, the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) is legislating the Personal Transportation Act to effectively copy what the Victorian Government has started.