Assisting transport industry adapt to changes

Michael Ferguson,Minister for Infrastructure and Transport

The Tasmanian Liberal Government is levelling the playing field for the taxi and ride-sourcing industries, while providing consumers with more choice and improved quality of service and safety.

We recognise the impact the changing environment has on the taxi industry, with the introduction of the ride-sourcing sector, which is why we are assisting the industry to adapt.

The On-Demand Passenger Transport Services Industry (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2020 will be introduced to Parliament this week, creating a modernised and more equitable regulatory framework for taxis, hire vehicles and ride-sourcing services.

Under the changes, ride-sourcing providers will need to be accredited, paying annual fees based on the number of vehicles, and meet increased vehicle requirements and inspections consistent with taxis.

For the consumer, the changes promote safety, increased choice, and provide for the development of a voluntary Code of Conduct and Service Quality for the taxi industry.

There will also be a 5 per cent increase in taxi fares – the first in six years. However, consumers will be minimally impacted, as for most it will be offset by a 5 per cent reduction to credit card surcharges.

Key elements of the reform include:

  • The annual release of new owner-operator taxi licences by tender will be suspended for a further four years. However, the Transport Commission will be able to issue licences where there is unmet demand;
  • Reserve prices will be set by the Tasmanian Economic Regulator, and are not to be reduced by more than 10 per cent annually for the first five years;
  • Regulatory and compliance costs will be lower for most existing operators;
  • Multiple hirers for taxis will be allowed, providing benefits to consumers, and parity between taxis and ride-sourcing providers;
  • A chain of responsibility model for safety will be introduced, with licencees, booking service providers and drivers held responsible for compliance as it relates to their role;
  • Drivers will be regulated to ensure they are suitable to provide commercial passenger services; and
  • Vehicles will be regulated to ensure they are safe to be transporting passengers.

In addition, the framework achieves consistency between wheelchair accessible and standard fares.

Implementation of the reforms will be undertaken over a timeframe to be finalised in consultation with industry, and supported by an industry uplift package, which includes funding to the Tasmanian Taxi Council to support the development of the Code of Conduct and Service Quality.

This has been an extensive and thorough rewrite of the outdated legal framework. I am particularly grateful to our local taxi industry representatives for their constructive approach as we have worked through this complex puzzle together.

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