The NSW government will legalise ride-sharing service Uber next month in a major reshaping of the taxi industry.
Uber drivers will be forced to pay licence fees and undergo stricter background checks, while taxi owners will be compensated for losing full control of the market under the reforms set to be introduced next month, reports Daily Telegraph.
A government source reportedly said the reforms – set to be announced by Transport Minister Andrew Constrance- were ‘inevitable’, since Uber would have continued to run outside the law anyway.
Under the reforms, Taxi drivers will be granted the sole right to ‘rank and hail,’ with Uber drivers only amassing rides through the App.
There will also be stricter regulating of who is allowed to register as an Uber driver, with a ban on drivers who have criminal records.
Registration costs for entering the taxi industry – currently $320,000 – will be cut significantly to accommodate for the changes to their income.
It comes after Canberra became the world’s first capital city to legalise Uber and other ride-sharing services n October.
The ACT began regulate ride-sharing networks such as Uber and goCatch late last month.
Like the NSW reforms, Uber drivers in the ACT are require drivers to be registered and accredited, and to undergo criminal checks.
All drivers must also have health checks every five years, be drug-free and have a zero blood alcohol level.
Booking services will have customer complaint mechanisms and surge pricing will be banned during emergencies.
Drivers will be required to pay a $600 application fee and a $50 accreditation fee, with licence fees fixed at $100 annually or $400 for five years.
Under the second stage, ride-sharing drivers would also need property insurance and compulsory third-party insurance for their vehicles.
Most payments will be made via credit card, and ride-sharing drivers who accept cash must have a camera installed in their vehicles.
Taxi licence fees fell from $20,000 to $10,000, and be reduced further to $5,000 within a year.
Hire cars license fees will also drop, from $4,600 to $100 a year.
A report by the Victorian Taxi Association said the industry injects $200 million a year into state and federal coffers.
It employs 17,000 Victorians and helps to keep the state’s elderly, disabled and veterans mobile as they take 2.6 million taxi rides a year.