Uber set to drive in taxi-only lanes under reforms in Victoria

Uber set to drive in taxi-only lanes under reforms in Victoria

ALEKS DEVIC, TRANSPORT REPORTER, Herald Sun
December 12, 2016 7:30pm
Subscriber only

UBER drivers riding in taxi-only lanes is on the cards as part of wide-sweeping industry reforms.

Passengers who pay for a premium service like a hire car, Uber Black or limousine may also be given the right to use the lanes to reward them with quicker travel as they pay a premium rate.

New categories will be drafted into legislation aimed at filling the gap that deregulating licence plates once did, in a bid to identify particular services and what services they can offer and how.

Cabbies are currently allowed to drive passengers in bus-only lanes across Victoria including on Hoddle St, Doncaster Rd and Victoria Parade.

Uber drivers riding in taxi-only lanes is on the cards as part of wide-sweeping industry reforms. Picture: AFP/Geoffroy Van der Hasselt
Cab ranks will also be opened up for Uber drivers but under the changes to regulate ridesharing, Uber cars can only use them if they have CCTV cameras and other safety features similar to taxis.

The State Government announced in August it would legalise Uber and other ridesharing services, and in doing so taxi, Uber and hire car passengers would be slugged a $2 tax per trip to help buy back taxi licences and overhaul the industry.

The $2 fee will be added to trips from 2018 and will apply for at least eight years.

In other radical changes the taxi industry was deregulated and essentially wiped off the value, in some cases of $500,000, off licence plates.

Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said looking at who has access to taxi-only lanes was part of deliberations.

“This is one of a number of issues we are considering in regulating rideshare and making services safer and more responsive for Victorian passengers,” Ms Allan said.

Uber said it would address the issue with the government, but it was not the main issue with ridesharing regulations it wanted to address.

The $2 levy is the major reform Uber has an issue with — as does the taxi industry.

In a bid to please the taxi industry, the State Government recently announced it would pay compensation for four taxi licences compared to two it originally offered after widespread outrage.

Cabbie compensation will now see $100,000 paid to taxi plate owners for their first licence and $50,000 per licence for up to three more.

The payments will form part of the first stage of legislation, to be introduced early next year, and will be paid out over two years, rather than eight.