Sydney taxis will be allowed to switch off their meters to compete with Uber

The ANZAC Day on George Street in Sydney. Photo: Lisa Maree Williams/ Getty Images.

The New South Wales government is set to roll out fare deregulation that will see taxis in Sydney allowed to switch off their meters in order to bid for customers against newer competitors like Uber.

The Australian reports the first-ever NSW point-to-point transport commissioner Barbara Wise is currently working on the exact rules to help taxis compete better against ridesharing — but one reform that will come is that booked taxis will be free to negotiate a fare rather than stick to the fixed meter rates.

“If you’re hailing it in the street or taking it from a rank, it will be a maximum fare. They’ll need to have the price [per km] on the window. But if it’s through an app or on the phone, or any other way that it might be booked, it would be a negotiated fare,” she told The Australian.

Even when a meter is used, giving drivers the ability to undercut the government-set per-kilometre rate has been floated as another negotiation tactic.

The difference under the new regime would be that regulations would scrutinise the transport companies, rather than individual drivers as it is in the current system, to ensure work safety compliance.

The work on the new regulations are currently under way, with Wise predicting the reforms would roll out later this year.

Uber Australia head of operations Mike Abbott claimed credit for triggering the changes with competition.

“It means that other players will be lifting their game and we’ll have to continually lift our game. The result is more opportunity and more choice and a better experience for riders.”

Read more in The Australian.

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