ACT Government leads the way on ride-sharing reform

The ACT leads the way in enabling the sharing economy while reducing the operating costs for taxi operators. Taxis will retain their exclusive rights to operate from taxi ranks and to be hailed from the street, whereas ride-sharing operators will operate in a similar manner to hire cars.

Speaking on ABC 666 AM this morning, Chief Minister Andrew Barr outlined the first phase of deregulating the taxi industry while introducing measures to regulate ride-sharing. Some of the changes include significant reductions in government fees for taxi operators while adding new fees and requirements, such as vehicle inspections, for ride-sharing operators.

Uber General Manager David Rohrsheim welcomed the changes. Uber have been calling for ride-sharing to be regulated appropriately for some time although their tactics have been rather aggressive.

A spokesman for the ACT taxi industry also welcomed the level playing field but is concerned that insurance requirements should also be similar.

How the ACT Government's rule that drivers who work exclusively for one ride-sharing provider will be deemed to be employees will intersect with the ATO's requirement that Uber drivers register for and collect the GST remains to be seen. But the move by the ACT goes some way to address some of my earlier concerns with ride-sharing.

One seemingly minor change that will be most noticeable, however, is that taxi drivers will no longer be required to wear uniforms. But once the symbols of regulation fall away, the tenuous status of taxi drivers will certainly be reduced. Whether the decrease in taxi operating costs will reduce taxi fares remains to be seen.

But the ACT Government is to be applauded for phasing in transport reform ahead of Uber's ride sharing service being offered in Canberra. The ACT is the first jurisdiction to address the challenges being brought about by ride sharing.