ACT to legalise ridesharing services

30 September 2015 | Ridesharing services such as UberX will be legal in the ACT as of 30 October.

Greater transport choice in ACT

The ACT government has announced it will legalise ridesharing services such as UberX by bringing them under regulation as of 30 October this year.

UberX doesn't currently operate in the ACT, but it's expected to start up at the end of October/early November. The new regulations would mean that the ACT is the first capital in the world to introduce a framework for ridesharing to operate legally before such services have even started operating.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the reforms will "improve travel options for Canberrans, reduce fares for the community through competition and drive further innovation".

The ACT government's announcement comes in the wake of our investigation into UberX vs taxis, which found that nine times out of 10 UberX was cheaper than taxis, and on average 40% cheaper.

Victoria set to follow, while NSW lags

This significant move from the ACT will make it the first jurisdiction in Australia to regulate the controversial ridesharing service, UberX, rather than crack down on it as we've seen elsewhere.

Earlier this week, Roads and Maritime Services in NSW issued 40 suspension notices to owners of vehicles involved in ridesharing services, for breaches of the Passenger Transport Act.

However, other states may soon be following ACT's lead, with media reports indicating the Victorian government is currently working on a regulatory plan for ridesharing services.

Ridesharing in ACT

ACT's new ridesharing legislation will include the following regulations:

  • Rideshare drivers will need to get accredited (like taxi drivers), which will involve criminal and driving history checks. 
  • Vehicles will need to be checked for safety and be fully insured.
  • Ridesharing services won't be able to be hailed off the street.
  • Booking apps will have to provide a fare range before the booking is confirmed. 
  • Surge pricing will not be allowed during a formally declared emergency.

Taxi licence fees to come down

To reduce costs for taxis, licence fees will be halved as of 30 October, and halved again a year later.

Competition welcome

CHOICE welcomes the move to remove the restrictions on the taxi industry and to regulate ridesharing.

"This will inject some much-needed competition into the point-to-point passenger market," says CHOICE director of campaigns and communications Matt Levey.

"These reforms will ideally offer more choices for consumers when trying to get from A to B which are safe and competitive."

"We hope other jurisdictions will follow suit to rapidly legalise innovation and not outlaw competition," says Levey.