The NSW Roads and Maritime Service has asked taxi app Uber to explain how a feature it is set to launch, that allows people to use their own cars as taxis, complies with state laws.
A Fairfax Media report says taxi drivers are furious over the pending launch, and the Taxi Council asked the government to investigate.
Previously Uber was only used to book taxis and private cars, but Fairfax says it has broken into “ridesharing” with a roll out of the feature made available to select users. A public launch is expected soon.
Drivers are saying it’s unsafe and unregulated, and it’s understandable given it’s seriously expensive to get a taxi license in NSW.
Also, as BI pointed out in its Uber review, the service has brought competition to a complacent industry that has enjoyed a virtual monopoly for too long and you get the feeling they’re scared.
The established taxi industry is fighting back by trying to knock hire cars out of the equation, with the Taxi Council demanding a 24-hour window on Hire Car pre-bookings. In the submission, they seem to be keen to price hire cars out of the market to maintain the taxi industry’s stranglehold.
There are some checks made by Uber though. You have to be at least 24 years old, have a four-door car that’s no older than a 2005 model, have insurance, a licence and a clean criminal history.
“This has to be dealt with before it gets out of hand,” NSW Taxi Council chief executive Roy Wakelin-King said.
“We have an organisation that is asking people to take on faith a [taxi or hire car] booking system that has no regulatory checks or balances.”
“There were no vehicle or driver background checks by the NSW government.”
The RMS said it was looking forward to Uber’s response on how its service complies with the NSW Passenger Transport Act.