The national capital will be the first state or territory to legalise the ride-sharing app Uber, with the ACT government embracing the tech disruptor and slashing costs for the taxi industry in the process.
Chief minister Andrew Barr is announcing the changes today as part of a review of the taxi industry, with the changes coming into effect from October 30.
The ABC reports that Uber drivers will need to be accredited and insured and, but in major concessions to the taxi and hire car industries, the annual taxi license fee will be halved from $20,000 to $10,000 in 2016, and halved again in 2017 to $5000.
Hire car fees will be cut from $4,600 to $100 per year.
The changes come after Canberra cabbies staged a 3-hour strike earlier this month in protest against Uber.
The ACT government and minister assisting on transport reform, Shane Rattenbury, are making the changes before Uber arrives in the Canberra market. In markets where Uber already exists, such as NSW and Victoria, the governments have been taking drivers to court and in NSW, the Roads and Maritime Service suspended the registration of 40 UberX cars for three months as it tries to come to grips with the tech disruptor.
Under the ACT legislation, a new transport booking service encompassing cabs, Uber and goCatch will be introduced and cabs will be allowed to work through Uber.
UberX drivers would not be allowed to pick up passengers from taxi ranks or stop in taxi, bus or loading zones and the drivers must have a zero blood alcohol reading.
Shane Rattenbury said the changes were important for accessibility and social equity.
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