Uber Is Now Legal In NSW

NSW's state government has agreed to give Uber the green light to operate within the state, and will give minimal compensation to taxi owners in exchange for a loosening of regulations around ride-sharing and private car-hailing apps in the state.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the state government cabinet of premier Mike Baird has agreed to immediately legalise the service, and compensate taxi owners who may now face substantially increased competition.

According to the Telegraph, the nearly 6000 perpetual taxi plate owners in New South Wales will be allocated compensation of $20,000 per plate — and be allowed to continue operating in the same capacity as they already do — up to a maximum of $40,000 per owner. Additional funds will be set aside to further compensate owners who only purchased plates recently; the entire fund will cost nearly $120 million for the state.

Uber drivers in the state will have to pay a separate licence fee, undergo regular car safety testing, and will be required to undertake criminal background checks. Uber drivers will also not be allowed to pick up passengers from Sydney Airport, and taxis will continue to have exclusive rights to pick up hailing passengers from the street and from taxi ranks.

The Sydney Airport restriction will likely require passengers to leave a specific area; short trips to the next station on the Airport train line to a likely Uber hotspot will cost consumers around $8.

Gizmodo has contacted Mike Baird's office and Uber for comment.


Comments

    compensate taxi owners who may now face substantially increased competition
    Wait, they're going to be given money because there's some competition?

      They are going to be given money because they had to pay the government up to $300,000 for a set of taxi plates, and have to spend thousands every year to comply with government regulations, just so they could do what Uber does without having to give the government a penny or comply with any regulations. Taxi plate owners should be given a full refund because their plates will be worthless within weeks of this and the only thing that ever made them worth so much was that the government limited the number that were allowed. i.e. What the government has basically done is extort hundreds of thousands from hard working people who thought they were making a good investment. It is unconscionable.

        Cry me a river.

        Welcome to competition. Step up or GTFO.

          Regardless of what you think about taxi services, the law required them to pay ridiculous amounts to be legally allowed to drive. Now that the law is being changed, that money should be refunded. Nothing to do with competition or 'stepping up', it's simple common sense.

          It has absolutely fuck-all to do with competition as the government has effectively nobbled the taxi industry. If taxi plates were free and the regulations were the same as they will be from Uber, then you could say it is simple competition but that is not the situation here.

          Many owner/drivers are paying off massive loans they took out to get their plates, possibly more than many people's mortgages, and all the government is going to give them is $20,000. That's like saying "we are going resume your home to build a freeway but we are only going to pay you 10% of what it's worth". Is that something you would be happy with?

            "Is that something you would be happy with?"
            No, I probably wouldn't.
            I would be happy if no-one ever did anything to f*ck me or my plans over especially when I've invested a lot of my time, sweat and money in to it.
            Unfortunately that's not how business works.
            You play by the rules and the rules can and do change; sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
            If you don't understand that, or if you're not willing to accept that, you are probably not going to be happy.

            No it isn't. They invested their money in a yield-producing asset that provided supramarket returns for decades. Given they were making returns above the riskfree rate, that implies taking risk commensurate with those returns, including legislative risk.

            There is literally zero similarity to the Government compulsorily acquiring your private domestic residence and paying a fraction of market value.

            Why do you think there people deserved to make riskfree returns at triple the market rate?

            Cry me a river.

            Last edited 18/12/15 11:12 am

              Well, except for the people who only bought their plates recently, and their yield-producing investment is now worth next to nothing. They've just lost 90% of their investment.

              Comparisons with buggy whips would be apropos except that the government was selling the buggy whips at a huge premium.

              I agree that the Baird government has done fundamentally the right thing but $20k doesn't come close to making good the value lost. $100k would be closer.

              On the plus side, something like this had to be done. The old model, where unless you were an owner-driver you were paying a premium to rent a taxi plate, was fundamentally broken. I just think that insufficient thought was given to the drivers.

              IMO the best way to fix this is for the Government to run a reverse auction, where it offers to buy back 10% of plates each year for ten years, and the amount paid is chosen by some sort of bidding war. Eventually all plates will be recalled and taxi drivers will no longer be paying a third of their income to cover plate rental.

            Taxi is a business. If you bought shares in a company that didn't go anywhere and then expected the govt to bail you out, you'd be laughed out of town.
            if the taxi industry wasn't so crappy, uber wouldn't have been needed. instead they want us to pay extra (flag-fall-fee) just for them to stop in a vomit covered shitbox with a driver with bad b.o and no license, no english and no map-reading ability.

        Don't bother to explain it to these people, they have no idea.

        Imagine if the government toned down negative gearing and properly enforced current foreign investment rules. Would they compensate home owners who "invested" in an overpriced market?

          Potentially, yes. Grandfathering clauses are sometimes included when changes that will affect the value of investments. The argument is that if investors feel that any investment is at risk due to potential legislative changes then capital flight could occur (or simply a lack of investment in an area where it is useful) then these clauses can be discussed or used.
          Whether they are a good idea is another matter...

        When you put it like that, it makes alot of sense. Thank you.

      Taxi plates cost upwards of $200k (they were near $300k at one point) and were sold on the basis of a certain expectation of the business returns, essentially that the taxi model monopolised their share of the public transport system. A token reimbursement to offset the fact this monopoly no longer exists makes sense, sort of.

    Uber drivers will also not be allowed to pick up passengers from Sydney Airport
    Yay its legal, but this sucks.

      People just walk around the corner from the terminal in Canberra and request pickup from there.

        Or the Krispy Kreme 5 mins walk from Sydney Domestic.

    Request your pickup just outside the Airport and then call the driver and tell them to pick you up from the arrivals area - most will be happy to.

      True, good idea.

    as long as uber drivers are regulated properly then consumers should be allowed to choose from the competition.

      What competition? I predict there will be no more taxis within a year. Nobody with a mortgage sized business loan will be able to compete with others who have spent nothing to set up their business. Taxi companies will all be in receivership in 12 months.

    "The Sydney Airport restriction will likely require passengers to leave a specific area; short trips to the next station on the Airport train line to a likely Uber hotspot will cost consumers around $8." Are you sure? I'm pretty certain that even one stop from either airport terminal will cost you $11 or more.

      I just checked Sydney Domestic to Mascot and it was $7.something on 131500.info.

      The gate fee is less between the AirportLink stations (the govt just pays the gate access fee on Green Sq and Mascot) - it's not the full Airport Gate Fee you get charged if you travel to/from another station

    Can someone explain to me why I would choose Uber over a taxi? Do they have superior screening of drivers? Do they have stricter maintenance schedules than taxis? To me Uber seems like the perfect job for a serial killer.

      Because Uber generally gives a significantly a better experience.

      Happily!
      Firstly, your fears are unfounded. All Uber drivers must undergo full criminal history checks, detailed medical checks and acquire a Passenger Transport Driver Authorization from Queensland Transport (or relevant department in your state) . Further, their Vehicles (which have to be less than 10 years old and in perfect order) must undergo a full mechanical and safety inspection, the driver must hold a full open license and provide details of vehicle registration with comprehensive insurance coverage in addition to attending a comprehensive training session with Uber. Uber also covers drivers and passengers with $20 Million insurance for additional coverage.

      Following all of this, the driver is then rated by every single passenger immediately after each ride, and each driver must maintain an extremely high rating (4 out of 5 stars) otherwise they lose their driver access with Uber. Ratings are based on the courtesy of the driver, the safety of their driving abilities, the condition and cleanliness of their vehicle and their willingness to accommodate the customers desires in terms of routes.

      There's no cash handover as all payment is handled via the app automatically, so there's no chance of money being taken, or passengers being charged for more than they received, nor are there any credit card surcharges or fumbling with wallets.

      As each Uber vehicle is privately owned, the drivers look after the cars and the vehicles are always immaculate (otherwise the driver will lose their rating).

      Finally, the customer is provided with the name, the photo, the vehicle make and model and the license plate of the Uber car BEFORE they are picked up - in addition to being able to track the approaching vehicle via GPS map. The customer can then choose to share their live GPS location with one or more friends as an added level of assurance as they ride in the Uber (of which the driver's phone is also providing constant location information back to Uber HQ).

      Once you arrive at your destination and exit the Uber (without having to hand over any payment!), you immediately receive an email with detailed listing of exact GPS path taken, times and locations including full cost breakdown, GST component and all.

      Then there's the price. Heaps cheaper than a taxi! You can even choose the elite service "UberSelect" where you're guaranteed a premium car (Audi A4, Mercedes or even a Porsche), and it's still cheaper than a stock standard taxi.

      It's LEAPS and BOUNDS safer, more convenient and smarter than traditional taxis.

      Give it a go. Download the Uber app, use coupon code "Ubercheap2016" and you'll get your first Uber ride for free.

      Glad you asked :)

      Last edited 17/12/15 2:55 pm

        I'm sorry but I see nothing there that makes it seem any better at all than a taxi. e.g. I can share my GPS location with anyone at any time, it's not something exclusive to Uber. I also prefer to pay cash as fumbling with my wallet is a lot less hassle than fumbling with an app on my stupid phone. I also have no desire to have to rate my experience every time and, if I did, three stars would be the norm, four or five stars would require exceptional performance. e.g. carrying my bags down the stairs.

        Who conducts all these background and vehicle checks? It's not the government, it's Uber, who have a vested interest in letting everyone pass. Mind you, taxi license standards are not what they used to be but I'd be more interested in Uber if all their drivers had to have a current taxi license, not just the same license as everyone else.

        As for "cheaper", that may be true of the base price but what about the multipliers Uber add when it's busy? One woman was charged $315 last NYE for a trip that would have cost her less than $30 in a taxi and the first she knew of it was after she got her email, when the car had gone. She knew what the multiplier was but not what the fare would be. Taxis also have a huge advantage in that most of us, even very infrequent users like me, have a good idea of how much a trip will cost, who know what an Uber ride will be?

        Taxis also have to be immaculate. They are washed and vacuumed at the start of every shift - two or three times a day. Drivers also have to wear an approved uniform.

        How about negotiating a fare? My mate drives taxis and last week he agreed to drive two guys up to the Central Coast for $250, even though the metered fare would have been well over $400. (Obviously they were extremely drunk.) Can you do that with Uber?

        How is it more convenient when you have to pre-order it? That sounds like the opposite of convenient to my drunken self.

        No, as much as I hate taxis, they still seem like a better bet than Uber.

          I bet you were one of those people who said "A phone with the Internet, what a stupid idea... It will never take off"

          Just FYI, at least in NSW, I had a police background check and had to get my driving record from the RMS.

          Fumbling with an app on your stupid phone? Do you book a taxi via the website, app or phone call? That's the same, if not more effort than using the uber app. You then also do not "fumble with an app on your stupid phone" when it comes time to leave, you just leave, and the ride is finalised and you are billed. You sound like the kind of person who prefers cash over paypass, ie, not a representative of society today in general.

      In my limited experience - cleaner, friendlier, cheaper, cars are newer.

      They also sometimes have bonuses - one the other day had bottles of water and individually wrapped lollies. The driver said "help yourself", and my friend who has never taken Uber was genuinely amazed.

      EDIT: Oh and I find them much easier to get than a taxi a lot of the time, in terms of availability.

      Last edited 17/12/15 2:56 pm

        Uber vehicles need to be 10 years old
        a taxi can only be registered as a taxi if it is less than 2 and a half years old, and only be used for a maximum of 6.5 years years

        http://taxi.vic.gov.au/owners-and-operators/taxi-owners-and-operators/vehicles/taxi-vehicle-age-limits

          Just to clarify your points there madwog.

          Uber vehicles must be less than 10 years old - and for some models, less than 6 years old.

          By your own information, a Taxi can be up to 8.5 years old. That makes them fairly comparable for age.

          However - most taxi's are driven into the ground - the most recent taxi I rode in was pushing 650,000km. Meanwhile Uber vehicles are privately owned and cared for and most often are driven far less than taxi's. The highest I've seen in an Uber was 160,000km - whereas the vast majority of Uber's I've been in have been sub 50,000km.

          From my own experience in taking both cabs and Ubers, it seems the Uber's are generally newer and cleaner.

      Have you ever ridden in a taxi? Uber is different to that. Enough said.

        I have never had anything but excellent experiences in taxis. Drivers are usually friendly, always knowledgeable and get me to where I am going by the smartest route. They help with my luggage, when appropriate. It's only when I'm not in them that I hate them.

          @ SomeOtherIdiot We can assume that you have vested interests in the Taxi business? None of your arguments that the NSW taxi services are better that Uber hold water. I've spent ten years catching taxis all over Sydney and quite frankly they're abysmal. While I understand many of the Taxi drivers themselves aren't getting rich, there's no excuse for the utter rudeness, piss poor punctuality, lack of direction, condition of the aging vehicles and hugely inflated prices. The monopoly that Taxis NSW has held over this form of essential public transport has led to a complacency within greed that was begging for something like Uber to come along and tear the industry wide open. Well, it's happened, it's here & it's the future. Like anyone else that bought shares in a business that collapsed, a house that lost value or a racing horse that went lame - sometimes investments fail. Get over it.

      I'm happy to get a taxi if I'm hailing or using a rank. But I have pretty much given up on ever booking one ever again. They're slow at arriving, unreliable, pick up someone else instead of their fare. Hell last week we were an hour late to a Christmas party because my friend booked two Cabs. I gave up, booked two ubers, they were there within 2 mins, new clean cars, polite drivers, and you can rate the driver after your ride.

    I'm all for competition and I think Uber is a good thing. But I agree with one of the early posts about the governments 'unconscionable' method of screwing taxi drivers out of a small fortune by restricting supply and then clipping the ticket year after year while at the same time saying it's in the best interests of consumers - when it's obviously not. The same thing is happening all over, look at the building industry and all the ticket clipping that goes on there. It's this clip-the-ticket, user-pays BS that government has become that just screws us all - instead of doing what they should be doing, which is setting sensible rules (i know, I know) and keeping out the way, they now think they're businesses. I feel a bit sorry for the taxi drivers because they drank the koolaid and believed the authorities. They should at least have a scheme where they can sell their plates back to the government on a sliding scale from full price to next to nothing depending upon how many years they've been fleecing us on behalf of the government

    Agreed!! This is outrageous!!! The 'government' charges people an extortionate amount of money for a license to taxi people and forces a monopoly by limiting licenses and the competitions ability to take any market share. When they see that soon there will be no way to continue this as there is too much support, they quickly step in and make this totally outrageous rule that WE MUST PAY a $1 fee in order to refund $20,000 over 5 yes for the license cost they THEY received payment of up to $300,000 each year!!!! What?! Just spend one fifteenth of next years income for licenses to do it!!!!!!! What am I missing here, or have we been totally duped??!

    Who conducts all these background and vehicle checks? It's not the government, it's Uber Actually it IS the government. Uber drivers must undergo criminal history checks through Department of Transport. As for the vehicle inspections - they are performed by qualified mechanics who issue a safety certificate for the vehicle.

    I'd be more interested in Uber if all their drivers had to have a current taxi license, not just the same license as everyone else.

    Uber drivers DO have the same license as a taxi driver - a Driver Authorisation issued by the Department of Transport for the purpose of public passenger transport. They undergo the same criminal history checks, the same medical checks - you name it.

    even very infrequent users like me, have a good idea of how much a trip will cost, who know what an Uber ride will be?

    It's very clear you've never used uber. Again, I encourage you to use it before criticising. When ordering a ride, there's a big button that says "Fare Quote" which will give you an accurate estimate of price including any relevant surge pricing which may be in place. It's all there in black and white and very clear to the customer. From experience, the quotes generally over-estimate, resulting in a pleasant surprise when the final price is cheaper than the estimate - and nearly always far cheaper than a taxi.

    Taxis also have to be immaculate.

    So do Uber's. Back to my comments on rating the driver (and car) after every ride. Again, from experience, Uber vehicles and service are better than taxi's, hands down.

    How about negotiating a fare? [...] Can you do that with Uber?

    No, you can't. Well done. You've found the one situation where a taxi might be a better option than Uber.

    For every other situation - Uber is superior.

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