01.Uber taking consumers for a ride?
The battle between the traditional taxi industry and smartphone taxi apps such as Uber has hotted up, with Uber now offering a low-cost “ride-share” service where people can provide transportation in their own car to others for a fee.
The service, which can save customers up to 50% when compared with traditional taxi fares, is being offered in addition to the existing Uber taxi and hire car service. Uber is currently advertising for potential drivers who are over 24 years old, have a driver's licence and no criminal history. They must also own a 2005 or later four-door car covered by comprehensive insurance.
However, on 30 April 2014 Transport for NSW released a statement saying that by law, any drivers offering transportation to paying members of the public must either be in a licensed taxi or hire car, or be an appropriately accredited driver authorised by Roads and Maritime Services. Anyone who is in breach of the law could face prosecution and fines of up to $110,000.
A spokesperson for Transport for NSW says these don’t apply to arrangements such as car pooling, or a group of friends sharing expenses.
In Victoria, the service is currently being investigated by the Victorian Taxi Services Commission (TSC). Victorian Transport Minister Terry Mulder has spoken out publicly against Uber, discouraging members of the public from applying for the driver jobs being advertised. Mulder's office also highlighted concerns about lack of accreditation for the service that could affect the safety of both drivers and passengers.