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Uber legalised in NSW, Victoria holding out

Going my way: customers have voted with their feet for the US-based ride-sharing company Uber, which has won major concessions in NSW, the ACT and Western Australia.

Ride-sharing service given green light in NSW, but taxi bodies still unhappy

23 Dec 2015

RIDE-SHARING service Uber has been granted the legal right to operate in NSW, earning a major victory over a deeply unhappy taxi lobby that is still agitating to ban the service.

NSW premier Mike Baird made the announcement last week as part of a point-to-point transport study, saying that the NSW government believes in innovation and wants the best outcome for consumers.

“The thing that has made the taxi/ride-share situation difficult to manage is that, unlike other businesses facing disruption (say, video stores facing disruption from Netflix) the government has sold and regulated taxi licence plates and has a responsibility to offer some protection for the mums and dads and investors who own these plates,” said Mr Baird in a statement.

“We are helping consumers to win through having more choice in how they travel and simultaneously being fair to taxi owners as they transition into the future.”

There are restrictions on where an Uber driver can operate, and taxi concession owners may be eligible for what the government calls an “adjustment package” that will be partly funded via a levy of a dollar on every Uber ride.

A $250 million compensation package will be tabled in NSW parliament in 2016.

A taxi plate currently costs up to $375,000 in NSW. Uber drivers pay no joining fee, but must own a vehicle that is no more than five years old.

Uber drivers cannot operate at Sydney airport, while taxis will retain the exclusive right of all ‘rank and hail’ work.

In response to the recommendations from the point-to-point study, which also removed up to 50 outdated taxi regulations and reduced licencing costs to taxi drivers, the NSW taxi council said it was still concerned about a number of issues that the government has not yet resolved.

“There are likely to be significant impacts on country taxi owners and operators – their services in rural and regional NSW communities are vital, but they are experiencing significant viability issues,” said the council in a statement.

“We applaud the government’s leadership in listening to the people of New South Wales and embracing the future,” said Uber ceo David Rohrsheim.

“Ridesharing is not only revolutionising the transportation status quo, but also helping make Sydney a more economically vibrant, better connected and more sustainable city.”

In Victoria, however, the service is still effectively illegal, after a magistrate found an Uber driver guilty early in December of operating a hire car without proper accreditation, fining him $900 but not recording a conviction.

The service is also still technically illegal in Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

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