In what many see as the consequences of the success of Uber in the commercial passenger industry, the Victorian government has announced its intention to establish a single commercial passenger industry to create more jobs and provide greater transport choices for the public and better security for drivers.
Daniels Andrews has unveiled today a set of new measures that are expected to transform the industry. The Premier wants to replace current licencing regime by a single registration system that will ensure high standards for all commercial passenger vehicles, including taxis, hire cars and ride share services.
To help ease the change and minimise the pain for many industry participants, the government has promised $378 million to provide fair and reasonable assistance to licence holders to help them transition to the new legislative framework, as well as a $75 million Fairness Fund to provide targeted support to individuals and businesses experiencing immediate financial hardship as a result of these changes. $25 million will also be made available to improve access to convenient, reliable point-to-point transport for people with a disability.
“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.” stated, Daniel Andrews.
Additional measures affecting the industry as a result of the newly announced policy include:
- all commercial passenger vehicle providers will be 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.
- The government will remove all existing licences 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 Knowledge Test (for driver’s accreditation) will be abolished and replaced by a simple system of industry accountability for all drivers.
New legislation will be introduced to reduce the hire car licencing fee to zero. These changes will open the door for more ridesharing and taxi services to hit the road and drive innovation, to provide more choice and better services for passengers. The government has promised to consult closely with industry participants on the details of industry transition, accreditation and safety requirements, and the implementation of the levy.
It is not clear how the new measures will affect new and migrant communities whose members are overrepresented in this industry. The introduction and success of Uber in Victoria has made these changes unavoidable and many Taxi drivers have been feeling “Uber pain” for quite sometime and perhaps the announced changes may provide some relief and enable them to deal with the new competition in the industry.