Uber and taxi trips to cost passengers extra $1 from next month with new levy introduction

David Nankervis, The Advertiser

March 20, 2017 9:00pm

A passenger levy of $1 on every taxi and Uber trip is flagged

Taxi industry says controversial passenger levy a backdoor tax

PASSENGERS will pay a $1 levy on every taxi, chauffeur and Uber trip from next month – almost a year after the controversial new charge was announced by the State Government.

The levy is expected to raise more than $8 million a year, but it has sparked an industry backlash and is expected to be unpopular with passengers.

The levy will fund a raft of reforms which include paying compensation to taxi plate owners for the introduction of rideshare operators like UberX.

However, UberX is operating illegally because it doesn’t conform to Government regulations and it hasn’t guaranteed its drivers will collect the passenger levy. Cabbies fear the levy will put them at a cost disadvantage.

An Uber spokesman yesterday did say the app firm was “working with the South Australian Government on our accreditation’’.

Planned levy start dates of July 1 and October 1 last year were missed because the Transport Department was trying to work out how to administer its collection.

But a department “Levy – Industry Update’’ issued this month advised operators they would be required to collect the levy from Monday, April 3 and hand over the revenue generated every three months.

The United Taxi Association is running an anti-levy campaign, claiming it was just another burden on the cost of living and was an open-ended new tax designed to swell Government coffers – a claim the Government denied.

The United Taxi Association claims the new passenger levy is just designed to swell Government coffers.

Association president Trimann Singh said cabbies didn’t want passengers to be slugged with a levy to pay for compensation caused by rideshare operators. “Passengers will be very unhappy about this,’’ he said.

“And it will be difficult for the Government to get money from UberX drivers because they are already operating outside regulations.’’

Hughes Chauffeured Cars general manager Anthony Olsen questioned why his passengers had to pay a levy to compensate taxi plate owners. “I’m sure chauffeured passengers will be perplexed as well,’’ he said.

Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan said the Government was working “with the industry to ensure all participants are ready to introduce the levy’’, which would coincide with a cut in the credit card and Eftpos surcharge paid by passengers from 10 per cent to a maximum of 5 per cent.

“Scheduling both at the same time will mean the majority of passengers will have a cheaper total fare once the levy is introduced and the credit card surcharge is cut,’’ he said.

Mr Mullighan said the levy would fund a $30,000 compensation payment to taxi licence holders, $50 a week payments for lessees and fee reductions across the industry which would save chauffeur vehicle operators $1882 a year, $288 for taxi drivers and $425 for owner operators of a single taxi.

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