Why Australia's taxi Industry is so protective of its licence plates

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The NSW government made a decisive move against ridesharing service Uber this week, suspending the registrations of 40 UberX driver’s vehicles.

That led Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes to fire up a Tweetstorm on the news. He also raised some interesting questions:

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has not released a full set of data on the number of taxi licenses issued in the last few years and when contacted by Business Insider would not disclose the figures, citing privacy concerns. However, their recently released Taxi Stakeholder Guide says most licenses are owned by individuals, and at least half only own one license. However, those owners aren’t necessarily the operators.

Whether the license holders are in debt or moguls like the New York Taxi king is another area shrouded by privacy. Yet data released by the Australian Taxi Industry Association (ATIA) shows just how costly it is to purchase a perpetual license plate.

To make it even more complicated, there’s an additional state taxi license, where dues are paid annually to the New South Wales government. While the cost of the license has gradually been decreasing, it’s still in the tens of thousands per year.

There are about six thousand taxi licenses in Sydney. Most of these are owned by individuals, and even with the rise of Uber are still worth considerable money to both the government and the taxi industry. And with so much money at stake, it’s an investment it seems the stakeholders are keen to protect.

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