Uber Sydney Gives The Bird To The NSW Government, Officially Launches UberX To Everyone

Uber is a taxi app that's making waves all around the world. It mainly operates on an "ask forgiveness, never permission" model when launching in a new city. Uber Sydney has been trialling low-cost UberX ride-sharing services for a few weeks, and the New South Wales Government has reminded them that it's against the law. Uber Sydney is now giving said government the bird, taking UberX live to the whole city and rubbing the bureaucrat's noses in it.

If you're in Sydney, open your Uber app right now and have a look at the triumphant party banner Uber has pushed to every single one of its users inside the city limits.

We've got a screenshot below, but for those less visually inclined, it reads in big, bold letters:

Sydney Has Spoken

You Wanted Safe Rides At Below Taxi Rates

Uber X Has Arrived

Here's the banner:

Uber has been in the test phase for low cost now for just over a week, and there's no knowing if tonight was the night the taxi app company was going to roll it out to everyone anyway.

Uber Sydney had actually referred to the Uber Low Cost service at 5:20pm (AEST) today as still being in the trial phase:

It does, though, seem slightly suspect that Uber Sydney would boldly launch UberX (as it's now officially branded) on the same day that the government issued a statement saying specifically that ride-sharing apps like the one offered by low-cost UberX, are in contravention of the Passenger Transport Act.

Under the act, drivers and the services they operate must hold an official taxi or hire car license to be an accredited driver. It also ensures that vehicles can be properly checked to make sure they’re safe. Drivers are also subjected to relevant police background checks.

Anyone caught operating a vehicle in contravention of the act is subject to a whopping $110,000 fine.



    Why do we have to be such super fucking luddites in this country?! Minicabs are common in the UK, and plenty of other places have informal taxis. Properly managed and overseen, I don't see what the damn problem is. It seems like anything which is a good idea has to be forced down the decision-maker's throats in this country.

      While I think the service is a great idea, the reality is that its illegal and I wouldn't be using the service nor participating in it as a driver.

      Its all good and well if your trip goes as planned, but if you are in an accident, chances are all parties are going to be in a world of pain.

      I would avoid at all costs.

        insurance, safety and reliability is the main reason

        But the other reason, is because the taxi consortium wants to hold onto their fat profits so have lobbied against this

        the prior issue can be easily resolved with regulation. Force non taxi drivers to have insurance and criminal background checks and proper licensing

        But there is no reason to make it totally illegal other than the fact that your local mp is being paid off by cabcharge and taxis combined

          I think the 'insurance, safety and reliability' is a really major factor, as you say, and can be addressed with regulation. I'm not so sure about the 'taxi consortium' stuff. There are certainly some vested interests in keeping things the way they are, but I think that it is not only big profiteers but also smaller players (e.g. drivers, as mentioned in this ABC article) who may be worse off with deregulation because of increased competition driving down prices. Of course, right now the prices are fixed, and that has its own good and bad points (addressed at the end).

          It looks like Victoria will be pressing ahead with some significant deregulation in taxis, so it will be interesting to see what happens there. I haven't seen any particular support for taxi deregulation except from the IPA, and I suspect the IPA would support allowing dumping of raw sewage in drinking water if it reduced regulation.

          Just quickly on the fixed-price issue:
          The good: people know how much they will be paying for a taxi, irrespective of which taxi they get into. This means that there doesn't need to be a process of hailing a cab, checking if you're willing to pay what they ask, and then commencing the journey.
          The bad: prices may be higher than they need to be, because competition can't drive the prices down.

          Re variable pricing/competition:
          If a cab company charges enough that people will turn them away there will be a high time cost for the taxi company and they may not be able to compete (and thus be forced to decrease prices). Another possibility is that there is no real competition, and oligopoly-type price fixing behaviour occurs.

            i meant regulation of eligibility to operate the service

            They can keep the existing pricing regulation.

            Plus even if it was deregulated. For existing HC and taxi services, the rates can stay the same

            For Uber, you see the rates before you ride.

            And regarding the regulation of insurance etc. I agree it is a huge factor. BUt if the govt legalises this instead of outright banning, then they just need to say its only Legal if you get commercial insurance and some sort of casual HC certification

            It can only mean a good thing cause youre effectively creating a new insurance product category and certification means $$ for the state coffers

            Im just saying that the Consortiums have vested interests and use the insurance, safety and liability argument to push an outright ban, instead of proposing a middle ground as i have described above

            But to be honest. We dont regulate informal car pooling between work buddies, its only a big concern when the uberX drivers are doing this full time as their primary source of income. Maybe they can force those drivers to get licensed once your majority of income relies on it or you pass a certain $ threshold (which can be reported by UBER easily)

            Last edited 02/05/14 11:01 am

              I more or less agree with you on all counts. I do think there is something quite different about carpooling compared to something like Uber (based on the pre-existing relationship, the context of the agreement, and so on). I also think that in reality the licensing and insurance requirements would need to be for anyone doing any Uber driving at all, not just after a certain amount of income, simply for safety reasons.

              Victoria's deregulation looks like it will be interesting, though, because they are deregulating taxi license numbers (I believe) but not deregulating fares. More importantly in relation to Uber, though, is that they are allowing pre-booked only transport (like Taxis, but only for pre-booked trips), and I think that is agreed price rather than metered pricing.

      probably because the ones who own taxis are going to suffer massive losses on the rent paid by the drivers.

      Last edited 01/05/14 11:15 am

      Properly managed and overseen, there may not be a problem. However, isn't Uber almost the very opposite of 'properly managed and overseen'?

    The problem is that they have a system with multiple middle men all extorting stupid money and passing on to the consumer. Cabcharge is still charging 10% on top of every fare. So stupid. But the government doesn't want the system to change because they get the money for the taxi plates.

    Taxis are properly checked for safety? Have any of these asshats actually ridden in a taxi lately? Find me a taxi that doesn't have any warning lights permanently on in the dashboard. Most taxis have more than 200,000km on them, look like a shit heap.

    ICAC needs to check out how much the Taxi Council has contributed to the pollies. Your 10% surcharge on credit cards is part of the slush fund.

    It's all about the tax, I believe the taxi plates cost $400k or something, if cabbies stop paying for the plates and switch to uber, the goverment will loose shitloads in tax. But just wait till the taxi council or whoever enforces it up there starting booking bodgy jobs and breaching the drivers who come to pick em up.

    Americans flip the bird, Australians give the finger.

    How do the government rules affect ride sharing? You know where they get people to share the car going to work etc. Im sure a driver driving work friends to work isn't going to foot the bill for all the petrol or parking costs? Isnt this the sorta the same yet the government pushes this?

      I was wondering about that "bird" expression.
      Never heard it here in 60 years.

        how old are you grandad?

          60 in a couple of weeks.
          8 and 10 year old SONS.

            you had kids at 50?? wat is this? modern family?

              Just happened. Wife was 35, easy peasy.
              Blokes haves kids much older than 50.
              Not so for women tho!

                lucky you
                but this really does sound like the Modern family show lol

    Not saying any of this is good or the way it should be, but:

    Private comprehensive insurance will not cover against an accident if you are taking paying passengers
    CTP will probably not cover an incident either
    As a private individual, the above two have the potential to financially wipe you out, even if you are not at fault.

      if you look into it further the company actually supplies insurance in the case where any of that doesnt cover you! driver and passenger safety and regulations come down to ratings, all monitored by uber and can have you cut off from driving. and further on the safety point..yeh theres the odds someone might slip through the cracks and only be looking to hurt people but whats to say the person sitting next to you on the bus isnt wired with c4, you could get crushed by a falling tree....nothing is safe. "ride-sharing" isnt illegal and i agree with old mate upp top that mentioned about a car pool driver not paying to drive co-workers to work...they are driving a person from point a too point b and getting paid to do so!

    Minicab owners have to apply for a permit in the UK. Maybe Uber could work with the Government to set up a similar system here rather than just start offering the service. But then that would actually require some effort on their behalf.

      Except, given that selling taxi plates is lucrative as hell for the state government, they have exactly zero reason to set up said system.

    The NSW's Passenger Transport Act (NSWPTA) is a fantastic piece of legislation and the main reason it was legislated was because of the Kempsy and Grafton bus crashes.

    There was major gaps in the previous legislation which among other things had to do with what you mentioned above.

    The NSWPTA requires each operator to become accredited and maintain that accreditation.

    Accreditation is expensive and there are very strict requirements.

    I am sure plenty of people would disagree with my thoughts but the effectiveness of the legislation is best reflected by the number of Public Transport incidents NSW has.

    We live in a highly regulated society and regulation will always drive up the price for the consumer.

    Inevitably there will be a safety related incident involving UberX and the government will come down hard on all concerned. I guarantee it.

    Uber is putting profits be for safety, and making out like they are the good guys. Ultimately saving a few dollars could cost someone their life.

    For the record, I don't work in Passenger Transport anymore and I am not taking the issue anymore seriously than it is.

    Links for the lazy:
    Kempsy Crash Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kempsey_bus_crash
    Graft Crash Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grafton_bus_crash

    good! doesnt the government have anything better to do then ban shit it can't tax?

    they go out of their way to fine blokes with an old mustang or similar taking some kids to their year 12 formal, or for use as a wedding car. Who didn't see this coming.

    If you are running a transport business hire car etc. Get it and yourself registered properly.

    Just happened. Wife was 35. Easy peasy.
    Blokes have kids much older than 50.
    Doesn't happen so easily for women tho!

    As it is, all is well until an accident happens. If it does, it will certainly be a nightmare as your car insurance is probably not going to cover you. If you check the fine print (PDS) of your motor insurance, it's likely to say something along the lines of "You are not covered if your vehicle is used to carry goods or passengers for a reward or for the purpose of earning an income..."

    Not sure how that will go as well with greenslips (personal injury insurance) as well because with greenslips it's a world of differences in premiums between a private vehicle, a hire car, and a taxi vehicle so if you make a claim and your vehicle was being used in a manner as in a taxi but it's not registered with the motor registry as a taxi, that could be a very big problem..

    Will the MAA have to create a new category/class of vehicles and will insurers be creating new insurance products solely for these? We'll wait and see..

    As much as I agree with the reasoning behind the safety and insurance aspects, to add, I also agree with the concern of the licensed and legitimate hire car services and operators. Like many other offered services in Australia there is a virtual monopoly of 2 or 3 companies that dictate what the public should pay for a service. Beyond that, it is highly possible the reason for the illegality of this is that the state government does not get a cut in the operation. Consider where the monies go from these authorities to operate, the licenses, testing, background checks and registration. Not to mention the taxes and tariffs collected on fuel costs that in turn contribute to the high running costs of an already expensive taxi journey.

    The only real loser in this equation is us and our right to choice.

    Come on people .. if you had used the Uber X service, like I have, in Sydney over the last few months you would like it immensely. Firstly like some comments above, it's fast to arrive, efficient, cheaper, cleaner and overall much more secure than your average taxi etc. I say secure because all the information is there in front of you .. who picked you up, type of vehicle, exactly where from and where to. You have complete knowledge of your movements along with the fees ALL on the app.

    For starters the taxi service has gone downhill badly over the last 5 years or so .. The drivers couldn't give a shit, they are too busy talking on the phone in their own language to have a conversation about any thing, the fees are going up again and again, the cars are super basic models internally with, in the majority of cases, radio and meters hanging out of their dash or not fitted properly.

    Also the Hire Car service is on a down hill roll too.. you only have to look at them at the Airports now .. hustling people for fares. Their cunning ways were put to the test recently by me when I came back from a trip. I accepted the ride on the basis that it would be a cheaper than a taxi type ride and he quoted me between $65-70. When we got there he said due to the time and k's it would have to be $90 ... Naturally I complained and in the end gave him $80 to stop his whining !!

    Uber X is the way to go for me from now on .... Admittedly I will not use it if there is a surge price or something .. but then that's where it comes back to my choice.

    OVERALL .. if UBER needs any support or fellow protesters to help get rid of whining Taxi and Hire Car Drivers .. then count me in !!! ...... KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK GUYS !!

    Just another add-on that I forgot to mention ... My UBER X driver was telling me about a classic save by UBER for one of their riders:

    Apparently the riders daughter, (on a recent saturday) was getting married and, just one hour before the wedding, the wedding car people rang him to say there had been an accident and the cars wouldn't be able to make it. Apart from the shock of not knowing what to do, and the fact that it was a Saturday, he had no choice but to try UBER. He tried UBER Black and booked 3 cars. What totally blew him away was that they arrived with 15 minutes to spare, 2 x black cars and one white !. He said that it wasn't requested that way but just happened that the white one ended up be the bridal car, and the blacks were the family and grooms etc. He said that when they got to the church the driver of the white car said to him "if I had of known it was for a wedding I would have put ribbons on as I have them at home"

    Needless to say the rider says that he is converted and will be a dedicated UBER rider from now on !!


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