11 September 2015
Consumer advocacy group CHOICE has slammed the door on the NSW Taxi Council's claim that ride-sharing services, like Uber, are "no safer than hitchhiking" and is driving an investigation to compare point-to-point passenger services to see which is cheapest, most reliable and provides the best overall experience.
The investigation comes as the debate about ride sharing regulation accelerates and with taxi drivers in NSW and Victoria ditching their cabs and walking the streets in protest against popular ride-sharing services.
"There is no basis for the outrageous claim that using an Uber poses the same level of risk as hitchhiking. Our investigation will deliver some much-needed facts to help drive this debate forward," says CHOICE's Director of Campaigns and Communications, Matt Levey.
"Consumers have clearly embraced ride-sharing services because they consider them to be more convenient than alternatives. Trips using services like Uber are tracked and traceable, unlike hitchhiking," Mr Levey says.
"To end the scare campaign we have commenced an investigation that will compare the service offerings of ride-sharing businesses with the traditional taxi industry."
"Consumers don't need fear-mongering in this heated debate on ride-sharing services. What we need is a level-headed assessment of any regulation required to protect consumers, not protect the bottom line of companies like Cabcharge."
"In the last few days we've seen the taxi industry call for ride-sharing services like Uber to be regulated in the same way as taxis to protect investments. But this debate should be about having competitive, safe transport options that meet consumers' needs," Mr Levey says.
"Ride-sharing services inject much-needed competition into a market that has not always put consumers' needs first."
"It's easy to see why the taxi industry is scared of Uber. Not because of safety issues, but because of the threat to their profits and their outdated business model. For example, it took years of campaigning from CHOICE and the intervention of state governments to finally cut the excessive Cabcharge 10% surcharge.
"Instead of spending time trying to scare consumers away from the competition, the NSW Taxi Council should instead be focused on making its prices and services more competitive," Mr Levey says.
CHOICE has also called on the ACCC to make use of its substantiation power and compel the NSW Taxi Council to provide evidence proving their advertising claims.
"The ACCC has the power to compel businesses to substantiate any claims they make; if there is genuine evidence available that proves that taking an Uber is as unsafe as hitchhiking, we would love to see it," says Mr Levey.
CHOICE will release the findings of its investigation next month.
Information about the NSW Taxi Council's ride sharing campaign is available at http://www.nswtaxi.org.au/news/nsw-taxi-council-launches-new-campaign