The ACT Government has announced the start of its evaluation of ride-sharing reforms that enabled Uber to operate in the Territory.
Nearly two years after enacting reforms that enraged the taxi industry but offered consumers an alternative to hailing a cab, the Government is seeking feedback from the general public, taxi, hire car and rideshare providers about how on-demand transport services have changed since October 2015.
Minister for Regulatory Services Gordon Ramsay said this feedback was an important part of the Government’s On-demand Transport Industry Evaluation, which was promised as a way to monitor the industry two years on from the reforms’ introduction.
The evaluation will assess if the changes have met their intended objectives of better services, promoting innovation and creating alternative business models, ensuring safety and accessibility, removing unnecessary regulation, providing a more level playing field for industry competition and that they align with public transport objectives.
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“There are almost 1000 active ride-share drivers working to help people get around Canberra and we’re confident the reforms are taking the consumer travel experience in the right direction,” he said.
“The reforms were always consumer focused, and now we want to hear from you, our community, about whether on-demand transport services are better since the regulations came into effect.”
Mr Ramsay said the Government would consult with the on-demand transport industry on changes in its competitiveness, its capacity to provide sustainable and differentiated travel choices, and the opportunities for industry participants such as drivers and owners of vehicles and plates.
He said ride-share vehicles and drivers had been undergoing the same accreditation and registration as for taxis, including criminal and driving history checks, vehicle safety checks and proper insurance.
“Safety and accessibility are a key focus, and we want to ensure through your feedback that both are as strong or stronger than they were before the reforms, including for people living with disabilities,” Mr Ramsay said.
He said the evaluation would also check if there have been any impacts on wheelchair accessible taxi services.
Taxi Industry Association chairman John McKeough said the taxi industry was still preparing its submission but remained sceptical of claims that there was a level playing field in Canberra or that standards were being maintained.
But he accepts that the situation had changed and that ride-sharing was part of the transport landscape.
He said the new arrangements had even opened up opportunities for the taxi industry. “We’re not here to whinge, we’re here to compete,” he said.
A final report on the evaluation is due by the end of the year and may recommend whether any more changes to the industry should be considered.
Interested parties have until September 5 to respond. Surveys are being circulated to industry and community stakeholders, with some available to be filled online. Written submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
A post on UberPeople.NET, the independent community of rideshare drivers, is appealing to members to take part.
Take the quick poll and link to the longer surveys at: https://yoursay.act.gov.au/ridesharereform.
Are you a Uber convert? Do you think ride-sharing will put the taxi industry out of business?