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ACT Government gives Uber the green light

By Charlotte Harper - 30 September 2015 31

Uber websiteRideshare business Uber has the green light to operate legally in the ACT from next month.

The ACT Government announced this morning that it will introduce reforms to regulate ridesharing operators and taxi drivers/owners in a bid to provide Canberrans with safe, flexible and affordable ridesharing services while reducing costs for taxi drivers, owners and passengers.

See Chief Minister Andrew Barr making the announcement on Periscope here.

The ACT is Australia’s first jurisdiction to regulate ridesharing, and Canberra will be the first capital in the world to enable ridesharing to operate legally ahead of ridesharing businesses operating.

Ridesharing in the ACT will allow accredited drivers to carry passengers through services such as Uber. The government said in a statement that this would “improve travel options for Canberrans, reduce fares for the community through competition, and drive further innovation in the demand responsive transport industry”.

The announcement follows lobbying of potential customers and government by Uber and a three-hour taxi strike in the capital on September 16.

Uber campaign screen grab

The reforms will be delivered in two stages. The first, from October 30, will allow the regulated entry of ridesharing into the Canberra market, and deliver an immediate reduction of fees for taxis and hire cars. The second will include a customised CTP and property insurance regime for rideshare activity and further reductions in regulatory burdens for taxis.

Ridesharing vehicles and drivers will undergo accreditation and registration, including criminal and driving history checks – just as taxi drivers do. Vehicles will be checked for safety, and rideshare will be fully insured.

The ACT Government halve taxi licence lease fees in 2016 and again in 2017.  Annual licence fees for hire cars will also be reduced.

Canberra’s taxi drivers will have access to multiple modes of business, from traditional rank-and-hail work to ridesharing and third-party taxi booking apps.

The Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Transport Reform, Shane Rattenbury said taxis and other demand-responsive transport options were important for accessibility and social equity, and often relied on by those with special transport needs.

“These reforms do not change the current arrangements – the wheelchair accessible taxi service booking system and the Taxi Subsidy Scheme are unchanged,” he said.

For more on the Taxi Industry Innovation Reforms, including public submissions received as part of the community consultation, see www.act.gov.au/taxi-industry-reforms.

Will you choose Uber over taxis? Or sign up to become an Uber driver? What do you think of the Government’s action on this issue? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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31 Responses to
ACT Government gives Uber the green light
Skyring 10:06 pm 08 Oct 15

dungfungus said :

What sort of vehicle will you be offering? Does Uber give this information on the app because I don’t want a Toyota Prius pulling up in my driveway to take myself, my wife and 4 suitcases to the airport.

You might get that with a cab. Quite a few Priuses in the taxi fleet nowadays.

My car is Prius-sized, but if Uber goes well, I’d be looking at something bigger for precisely that reason.

No, I don’t know if the app will let you specify what size vehicle is required for the job. Sometimes a passenger needs (say) a station wagon for luggage or a folding wheelchair or a bike or something that won’t fit in a small car. These things are important.

rubaiyat 9:52 pm 08 Oct 15

Skyring said :

Some valid points raised in discussion.
1. Uber(X) is working with the government. That’s a first in Australia, where the service has previously been on grey legal ground and drivers have been fined.Vehicles will be inspected, drivers will be checked for criminal and driving record, there will be medical checks.
2. From what I’ve seen, there is a significant overlap between taxidrivers and Uber drivers. Mostly young, foreign-born, male.
3. Uber fares will be about 75% of taxi fares. Not counting surge pricing, of course.
4. The cars are not going to be dedicated use vehicles like taxis. They will be the driver’s regular transport, and drivers will very likely not be working full time. So a lot of the fixed costs of registration, insurance, maintenance are already paid. Of course there will be costs of petrol and extra maintenance and depreciation, but from the driver’s point of view, it’s pretty much all gravy.
5. Yes, there will be surge pricing, but there are times when the taxi fleet can’t cover the demand. You want to wait in line on a cold Sunday pre-dawn with a bunch of rowdy drunks, or you want to take the chance of missing your flight, or you are okay with paying a bit extra.
6. It looks like airport pickups will be okay, though all rides have to go through the app. Apparently there ill be a $3 surcharge applied.
7. The ACT government sees this as a short-term solution to a public transport problem. If the lunatic tram ever gets built, it is unlikely to be competing with Uber anyway. But taxis and ride-sharing apps take cars off the roads, assuming a driver gets more than one fare a day, so it reduces the load on the road.
8. The big attraction for both rider and driver is that both can rate the other, and those with low ratings are kicked off the system. Ever wanted to give your taxidriver a one-star rating for going the long way or having a smelly cab?

And yes, I’m contemplating driving for Uber. I’ve attended a couple of meetings, looked at how it’s worked out elsewhere and I think it will be extremely popular here.

What cut is Uber taking and what country are they declaring it in? 😉

Masquara 8:55 pm 08 Oct 15

Why would you risk riding with a private driver?

gazket 8:23 pm 08 Oct 15

Why is Andrew Barr announcing major government changes on some unheard of hipster web site ?
Pandering maybe ?

dungfungus 6:46 pm 08 Oct 15

Skyring said :

Some valid points raised in discussion.
1. Uber(X) is working with the government. That’s a first in Australia, where the service has previously been on grey legal ground and drivers have been fined.Vehicles will be inspected, drivers will be checked for criminal and driving record, there will be medical checks.
2. From what I’ve seen, there is a significant overlap between taxidrivers and Uber drivers. Mostly young, foreign-born, male.
3. Uber fares will be about 75% of taxi fares. Not counting surge pricing, of course.
4. The cars are not going to be dedicated use vehicles like taxis. They will be the driver’s regular transport, and drivers will very likely not be working full time. So a lot of the fixed costs of registration, insurance, maintenance are already paid. Of course there will be costs of petrol and extra maintenance and depreciation, but from the driver’s point of view, it’s pretty much all gravy.
5. Yes, there will be surge pricing, but there are times when the taxi fleet can’t cover the demand. You want to wait in line on a cold Sunday pre-dawn with a bunch of rowdy drunks, or you want to take the chance of missing your flight, or you are okay with paying a bit extra.
6. It looks like airport pickups will be okay, though all rides have to go through the app. Apparently there ill be a $3 surcharge applied.
7. The ACT government sees this as a short-term solution to a public transport problem. If the lunatic tram ever gets built, it is unlikely to be competing with Uber anyway. But taxis and ride-sharing apps take cars off the roads, assuming a driver gets more than one fare a day, so it reduces the load on the road.
8. The big attraction for both rider and driver is that both can rate the other, and those with low ratings are kicked off the system. Ever wanted to give your taxidriver a one-star rating for going the long way or having a smelly cab?

And yes, I’m contemplating driving for Uber. I’ve attended a couple of meetings, looked at how it’s worked out elsewhere and I think it will be extremely popular here.

What sort of vehicle will you be offering? Does Uber give this information on the app because I don’t want a Toyota Prius pulling up in my driveway to take myself, my wife and 4 suitcases to the airport.

Skyring 4:37 pm 08 Oct 15

Some valid points raised in discussion.
1. Uber(X) is working with the government. That’s a first in Australia, where the service has previously been on grey legal ground and drivers have been fined.Vehicles will be inspected, drivers will be checked for criminal and driving record, there will be medical checks.
2. From what I’ve seen, there is a significant overlap between taxidrivers and Uber drivers. Mostly young, foreign-born, male.
3. Uber fares will be about 75% of taxi fares. Not counting surge pricing, of course.
4. The cars are not going to be dedicated use vehicles like taxis. They will be the driver’s regular transport, and drivers will very likely not be working full time. So a lot of the fixed costs of registration, insurance, maintenance are already paid. Of course there will be costs of petrol and extra maintenance and depreciation, but from the driver’s point of view, it’s pretty much all gravy.
5. Yes, there will be surge pricing, but there are times when the taxi fleet can’t cover the demand. You want to wait in line on a cold Sunday pre-dawn with a bunch of rowdy drunks, or you want to take the chance of missing your flight, or you are okay with paying a bit extra.
6. It looks like airport pickups will be okay, though all rides have to go through the app. Apparently there ill be a $3 surcharge applied.
7. The ACT government sees this as a short-term solution to a public transport problem. If the lunatic tram ever gets built, it is unlikely to be competing with Uber anyway. But taxis and ride-sharing apps take cars off the roads, assuming a driver gets more than one fare a day, so it reduces the load on the road.
8. The big attraction for both rider and driver is that both can rate the other, and those with low ratings are kicked off the system. Ever wanted to give your taxidriver a one-star rating for going the long way or having a smelly cab?

And yes, I’m contemplating driving for Uber. I’ve attended a couple of meetings, looked at how it’s worked out elsewhere and I think it will be extremely popular here.

HiddenDragon 6:12 pm 01 Oct 15

Beyond the fine details (and whatever approach had been taken, there would have been unhappy people), I think the Government should be congratulated for what looks like a positive, balanced approach to this issue.

Indeed, in some respects, it reminds me of the early days of self government in this town when, if anything, there was a sense of freedom about the place – before the cranks, zealots, urban authoritarians and noisy interest groups perfected the art of using the local government to push their own barrows (at the expense of the general public). So rather than – as too often happens – pointing to other jurisdictions to justify further regulation and/or taxation in this town, perhaps this could be the beginning of a trend towards thoughtful de-regulation, in which we set the lead for others to follow.

watto23 3:20 pm 01 Oct 15

Arthur said :

Sell this might out a dent in the light rail plan. What’s more attractive an old outdated 100 year old train track system or a new modern mobile phone company? Also one is several billion dollars cheaper to the tax payer.

Except that its really just a form of car pooling with an online payment system. if this reduced traffic on the roads, then I’d say yes it will help and I can see why the ACT government thinks its a good idea. But we can’t just build roads and more car parks. So lightrail or some public transport option still needs to exist. The light rail is also designed to serve a high density corridor and give people the option to live in Canberra without needing a car, which is almost impossible right now..

watto23 3:17 pm 01 Oct 15

John Moulis said :

I don’t have a smartphone so Uber is totally out of my reach.

Yes but should put downward price pressure on taxis. Well the fact the license fee has been slashed is a good thing for those who use taxis…..

John Moulis 1:33 pm 01 Oct 15

I don’t have a smartphone so Uber is totally out of my reach.

rubaiyat 10:52 am 01 Oct 15

Arthur said :

Sell this might out a dent in the light rail plan. What’s more attractive an old outdated 100 year old train track system or a new modern mobile phone company? Also one is several billion dollars cheaper to the tax payer.

You don’t ride on telephones and unless the Uber drivers are total idiots, which we have to yet see, can’t see them charging less than the $1/km or so it costs them just to drive their car, ignoring that they’d like to get paid for the privilege.

Gungahlin to the City is still going to cost at least $30-40 one way by taxi/taxi equivalent.

Not going to put a dent into any form of public transport, even though Uber is using 130 year old cars.

rosscoact 8:51 am 01 Oct 15

Arthur said :

Sell this might out a dent in the light rail plan. What’s more attractive an old outdated 100 year old train track system or a new modern mobile phone company? Also one is several billion dollars cheaper to the tax payer.

Not sure I get the connection. Do you and your crew see every single thing only through the prism of the tram?

Arthur 7:41 am 01 Oct 15

Sell this might out a dent in the light rail plan. What’s more attractive an old outdated 100 year old train track system or a new modern mobile phone company? Also one is several billion dollars cheaper to the tax payer.

DriverSteve 12:04 am 01 Oct 15

I am sure Uber will be welcomed by many travellers and I will most definitely want to be part of the solution and provide first class service to those that want what Executive Drivers offers. Of course I would need to know that clients won’t be double billed, that clients with other drivers are adequately insured, and safe. By safe I mean that Uber and other similar enterprises like Ontap ensure their accredited vehicles a really properly registered and insured, that their accrdited drivers have police checks and that adequate insurance is mandatory.

If the ACT Government endorses and legalises rideshare then I will definitely seek to be active in that arena with both Uber and competitors like OnTap.com.au

Hopefully changes will also be made in legislation so cars like H1 can park out front of the airport and have travellers choose to ride share with us or choose a Taxi or someone else. We are just talking about a sensible approach to deregulating private transport in Canberra and that’s got to be a good thing.

Kind Regards
Driver Steve
(Steve Cotter)
Executive Drivers

Sent from Executive Drivers Canberra
http://www.executivedrivers.com.au
M: 0419041910

pierce 1:55 pm 30 Sep 15

Can’t wait until the Uber rate randomly skyrockets “due to demand” at the end of Parliamentary sitting weeks.

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