UberX has been ruled effectively illegal in Victoria after Uber driver Nathan Brenner was charged with operating a hire vehicle without a licence.
Brenner was caught in an ‘undercover sting’ operated by the Victorian Taxi Commission earlier this year. While Uber drivers being sanctioned by the taxi commission is nothing new, Brenner is the first driver to be found guilty in court.
Previously, Uber has been paying fines on behalf of drivers, however this time unsuccessfully attempted to have the charges thrown out.
The State Public Transport Minister confirmed that the decision means that Uber ride sharing services are illegal in Victoria due to the fact that drivers do not hold commercial drivers licences which can cost up to $40,000.
The backwards decision comes after the ACT changed legislation to make Uber and similar ride-sharing service legal. Under the reforms, taxi licence fees will be reduced from $20,000 to $10,000 while the industry was granted healthy competition to help improve experiences for customers. Yay.
It seems in Canberra, pollies were than happy to have an outdated service improved by technological advancements for their own comfort and reliability. Fair call.
If you, like most Victorians, enjoy a bottle of water and a polite driver, have no fear. The service will keep running while it fights another twelve similar cases in court.
In the meantime, Uber will also continue to campaign to the Andrews Government for a change in legislation.
Melbourne has more Uber drivers than any other Australian city and following the hearing, many Victorians took to twitter to voice their outrage over the decision. Including NBA star Andrew Bogut.
C'mon Melbourne. Thats a joke RT @AleksDevic: Uber has been ruled illegal in Melbourne after a decision in a landmark court case.
— Andrew Bogut (@andrewbogut) December 4, 2015
Others voiced their outrage over the Taxi industry’s attempts to fight off competition doing anything except improving their product.
Without the taxi industry's massive, inherent, entrenched problems & shitful service, it wouldn't be abandoned like the rusting hulk it is.
— Geoff Lemon (@geofflemon) December 4, 2015
Innovation that thinks outside the box to address systemic industry problems should be rewarded and promoted by the Government. It doesn’t seem right to restrict a new service that makes transport safer, more reliable and cheaper for everyday citizens because it doesn’t fit the current model of how things are done.
It has a lot to do with this:
It hasn’t been a great couple of months for the Taxi Industry. Last month, in an attempt to create an ‘honest discussion’ with customers, they prompted people to share their experiences on twitter using the hashtag #yourtaxis.
What followed was a string of tweets detailing abysmal service, refused fares, and sexual advances. Todays ruling is sure to stir up more anger from Victorians who are crying out for a better ride sharing service.
In the end, Brenner was fined $900 dollars without conviction and will continue to drive for UberX. Fight the power, Nathan!