Wow, did I get a lot of flack from a number of taxi drivers and operators following my articles in March about the plight of plate owners losing their hard earned assets.

“Why do you worry about those bastards, what about the plight of us drivers?” was the gist of the general response.

Indeed! But unless we can reduce our fare rates substantially we won’t be able to compete with ‘minicabs’ and the only way that can be achieved is by reducing operational costs in particular plate leases fees right down to a few thousand dollars. I suggested $5000. That however is not going to happen unless we get rid of plate owners altogether and that can only happen with a government buy-back … at a fair price.

As NSW Premier Mike Baird wrote on Facebook the day he announced the legalization of ‘ridesharing’: “The thing that has made the taxi/ride-share situation difficult to manage is that, unlike other businesses facing disruption (say, video stores facing disruption from Netflix) the government has sold and regulated taxi licence plates and has a responsibility to offer some protection for the mums and dads and investors who own these plates”.

The ‘protection’ he is talking about is a four-year moratorium on the release of new plates. That may maintain plate values and lease fees at current levels and may even increase them should demand outstrip supply. The manipulation of plate values is alive and well.

Surprise, surprise, the Queensland Government, after an 8-month lull, has finally decided to again enforce its laws against UberX. Fines have been increased substantially and the Transport Inspectors have been given smarter powers. Unfortunately Parliament voted against demerit points for driving UberX, the one thing that had worried Uber. Fines don't. Click here for full story.

Another surprise this month, and an unpleasant one, was the announcement by the South Australian Government that it will legalize ‘ridesharing’ from 1 July. The reforms resemble those introduced in NSW although the compensation to plate owners will be $10,000 higher at $30,000.

What was no surprise was the ACCC granting the taxi mafia accreditation for it new app ihail. The company behind the app is ihail Pty Ltd that is controlled by Cabcharge and three other major networks. The accreditation will protect it against prosecution under most of Australia’s anti-cartel laws. Effectively the ACCC has given it a licence to print money. Read more here.

We also have an article comparing the ways the taxi industry and Uber treat their drivers. Basically they are peas in a pod, except the taxi industry has been exploiting its drivers for decades preventing them from getting any industrial rights, however they do have some rights thanks to a few government regulations. Uber has no such restraints. Uber – the taxi industry mafia on steroids.

Finally, there have been rumors on the ranks that Sydney Airport had announced that minicabs UberX cars will be allowed to access limousine areas for pickups. It’s not true.

“To be eligible to apply to Sydney Airport for private plate registration, operators must be accredited by Transport for NSW, and must also have been registered as an accredited operator with Sydney Airport prior to 18 December 2015. Only those operators who meet these eligibility criteria for private plate registration will be permitted to access the limousine areas”, a SACL spokesperson told OZ Cabbie

No UberX car, unless it was Prius on an old HC plate, could have register with the Airport prior to that date and they can’t now either. That's not to say the SACL won't accommodate minicabs some other way in the future.

Just in " Laws allowing Uber to operate in Tasmania have just passed the state's Lower House."

Until next month

Peer Lindholdt

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OZ Cabbie February 2017

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