NSW transport minister Andrew Constance has announced a new taskforce that will make recommendations to the state government at the end of October on how to regulate ridesharing apps.
Submissions will be called for in the coming weeks for input on sustainability and competition in the market, emerging technology and customer safety, and the burden of current taxi regulations.
Professor Gary Sturgess from the the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) will head the taskforce and seek input from industry, consumers and taxi app companies.
“We know cities around the world are grappling with these changes and in particular, the introduction of new unregulated ridesharing apps. I have made it a priority to get to the bottom of these issues, no matter how complex,” Constance said in a statement.
“If we want to see a strong future for the taxi industry and make services more attractive to customers, the next step is to look closely at current regulations to ensure there’s a more even playing field.”
Uber, one of the leading ridesharing app companies in Australia, welcomed the announcement, saying the transport minister recognises "the overwhelming popular support for ridesharing, and the need for outdated regulation to catch up with changing customer choices".
Ridesharing and taxi apps have been in conflict with the industry and government over the past few years.
The NSW government and transport authorities issued fines late last year to UberX drivers for accepting paid fares without accreditation.
In November last year, Uber stated in a letter to state transport minsters that all its partner drivers are required to pass a criminal background and driving history review. It also provides consumers with the driver’s name, photograph, licence plate, vehicle type and contact number when requesting a ride.
Taxi booking app GoCatch also spoke out against UberX earlier this year, claiming that it had been evading tax, giving it a huge price advantage over other players in the market. The Australian Tax Office responded by not exempting services like UberX from paying GST.
GoCatch has also had its share of safety concerns. In 2012, the NSW Taxi Council attacked the taxi booking app and others like it by advertising against them in an attempt to make consumers wary, saying they are not safe.
At the time, GoCatch co-founder, Andrew Campbell rebutted, saying that the app is more secure than the “old fashioned way” because it gives consumers the driver’s name and mobile number when booking, and there’s have a location-based data record of every job.
To register your interest in making a submission, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org