Hello ATLOA Members.
I have not edited the following but will draw your attention to the fact that the TCSA, the peak Taxi Industry body in SA, has been campaigning these same points with the Minister Mullighan ever since the Taxi & Hire Car Review was released. The UTA are just jumping on the band wagon that was started by the TCSA.
SA Taxi association pleads with Stephen Mullighan to penalise illegal Uber X drivers
David Nankervis, The Advertiser
January 16, 2017 9:00pm
ILLEGAL Uber X drivers should be slapped with tougher penalties to prevent cabbies going broke, the taxi industry says.
Competition from law-breaking ride-share services have seen cab passenger numbers fall by up to 15 per cent since last year, according to the United Taxi Association of South Australia.
Such is their concern, the association has pleaded with Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan for offending operators who don’t meet State Government regulations to be hit with fines and incur demerit points. Mr Mullighan said such a move was “currently being considered”.
In July last year, the Government adopted controversial reforms to allow ride-share drivers to be accredited by the Transport Department and operate in competition to taxis.
Since then, at least 192 drivers have been caught providing “unaccredited’’ ride-share services.
This includes Uber X drivers, because Uber’s app booking service is not approved by the minister and Uber does not require drivers to have official accreditation.
The unaccredited drivers were fined $375 each but the UTA argued the penalty was not tough enough to deter motorists using their cars to work as ride-share operators.
UTA president Trimann Singh said the association wants an “immediate implementation of a system to issue demerit points to drivers operating illegally’’ because many cabbies were “in acute financial distress’’.
“Potential fines to illegal operators … are not dissuading drivers and it is felt that the application of demerit points against drivers is an immediate and necessary action,’’ he said.
Mr Singh added that the illegal ride-share drivers “do not operate with the same safeguards’’ provided by taxis and “represent a risk to the safety of passengers’’. The UTA letter is also asking Mr Mullighan to reduce the Compulsory Third Party costs for cabs.
“Taxi third party insurance costs are clearly inequitable considering new entrants, with a similar risk profile, do not bare this substantial ongoing cost,’’ Mr Singh said.
Mr Mullighan said introducing demerit points was one of several “longer-term initiatives regarding breaches of passenger transport legislation’’. “The State Government will not tolerate individuals putting passengers at risk and will continue to conduct compliance activities to crack down on unaccredited drivers and unlicensed vehicles,’’ he said.
Mr Mullighan said taxi CTP was “based on risk’’.
Opposition spokesman David Pisoni said taxi CTP charges were “left over from a regulated monopoly Labor has continued to exploit, increasing its Motor Accident Commission profits to State Treasury’’.