Victorian Uber users can rejoice with breaking news that the State Government has taken steps to overhaul the commercial passenger industry. In effect, it will scrap the current taxi licensing system, compensate the taxi industry and legalise ride sharing services, while holding all drivers to the same safety and security standards.
The current licencing regime will be replaced by a single registration system for all commercial passenger vehicles, including taxis, hire cars and ride share services like Uber.
Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews said,
“This is a comprehensive and fair transformation of taxi and hire car services, which responds to new technology that is changing the way people travel.”
“We’re levelling the playing field for the whole industry while ensuring consumers have safe and reliable access to transport services.”
To make the move, huge compensations will be made, including a new ‘Fairness Fund’ to provide support for Taxi drivers, along with assistance to current license holders to make the transition.
There will also be a new dedicated Commissioner for disability services to the Taxi Services Commission, appointed to ensure appropriate transport is provided and meets standards.The Government also says it will work with Victoria Police to ensure the continued safety of all passengers.
Draft legislation will be introduced into Parliament this year to make hire car licensing free, while a second piece of legislation will be introduced into Parliament next year which will enable the long term reform.
All up, the package will see the following:
- $378 million made available to provide fair and reasonable assistance to licence holders to help them transition to the new legislative framework.
- A $75 million Fairness Fund to provide targeted support to industry participants experiencing immediate financial hardship as a result of these changes, including $25 million to improve access to convenient, reliable point-to-point transport for people with a disability.
- All commercial passenger vehicle providers charged a levy equivalent to $2 per trip, to fund the transition to the new system including support for existing licence holders during the transition.
- All existing licences removed to allow for more flexible fares to drive competition and reduce the cost of travel for passengers.
- All drivers accredited by the Taxi Services Commission which will include passing police, medical and driving history checks and all drivers will be subject to ongoing criminal data matching.
- An Australian first of a dedicated Commissioner for disability services to the Taxi Services Commission.
- Rank and hail work only open to those providers that meet stringent requirements including cameras and fare meters.
- The ineffective, inefficient and costly Knowledge Test abolished and replaced by a simple system of industry accountability for all drivers.
The Government will continue to consult closely with industry participants on the details of industry transition, accreditation and safety requirements, and the implementation of the levy.
Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan addressed media to say,