Uber pleads its case in ride sharing review

The Katter Australia Party joined with taxi drivers to make a stand against ride sharing app Uber. Photo: SuppliedRide sharing service Uber has made its submissions to the government review that will recommend whether the service becomes legal in Queensland.

The independent taskforce charged with making the review released its discussion paper in late May offering four different scenarios for reform of the personal transport industry.

Scenario one suggested making no changes, scenario two suggested legalising ride sharing in South-East Queensland only but restricting rank and hail rides to registered taxis, scenario three suggested the same but for all of Queensland while scenario four suggested deregulating the industry entirely.

In their submission to the review Uber has made it clear that their preference is for scenario three allowing their business to grow throughout Queensland but not treading on the toes of the Taxi industry allowing them to keep their position at ranks and for punters to hail on the side of the road.

The company also made a series of recommendations to the review around licences, fares, affiliation, service areas, safety, insurance, service obligations and accessibility.

Uber submits that no additional licence restrictions or requirements be imposed in drivers who wish to use their vehicle for ride sharing, outside particular safety standards.

In the wake of controversy around surge pricing Uber suggests that fares should be deregulated where riders can ascertain the cost of a trip before accepting a ride.

The company also points out that regional communities outside the south-east stand to benefit the most from ride sharing due to high unemployment rates and lack of public transport options.

Uber highlights the requirement for cars on the service to be less than 10 years old and the app’s built-in GPS tracking as well as the fact the rider and driver both know each other’s identities before a ride as evidence of its safety standards along with the app’s ratings system which allows drivers and passengers to rate each other’s performance after each ride, as evidence of their ongoing commitment to customer satisfaction.

In the 62-page submission, Uber also highlighted the benefit its ride-sharing service offers drivers with two pages dedicated to personal testimonials from people who use the service as their main or supplementary income.

But as Uber prepared to step up its battle to have ride sharing made legal in Queensland, the Katter Australia Party, who used their power in the state government to have higher fines imposed on Uber drivers, were rallying behind taxi drivers in Toowoomba.

Member for Mt Isa, Rob Katter, and his dad Bob made their way south to Toowoomba to vent their opposition of the ride-sharing app after Uber launched in the regional city this week.

“I think no one in Queensland minds competition but we just want a fair go,” Rob Katter said in a statement.

“To operate against the laws put in place by the state undermines the principals by which we operate a fair and legitimate business.

“Sure there is a low cost service in Uber but that comes at a cost, that cost is a loss of taxes to Australia, a loss of the regulations that ensure a safe service for people and a reliable service operating 24/7.

“Taxi’s also provide over 1 million rides per year to those confined to a wheelchair, how else are we going to supply these government mandated services.”

Uber offers a service for passengers with accessibility needs call UberAssist and in their submission call for the Taxi Subsidy Scheme, which financially assists people with accessibility needs, to be opened up to all passenger transport providers.

Katter Australia Party leader Bob Katter urged caution in plans to deregulate the taxi industry after Toowoomba suffered greatly in the deregulation of the dairy industry.

“In the dairy industry we had 243 dairy farmers in the Atherton Tablelands before deregulation was announced, we now have only 38; its just all gone the area lost 50 million dollars,” he said in a statement.

“The greater Toowoomba area also lost 100 million dollars due to the deregulation.

“What we are saying to you is if you continue to deregulate with unhinge (sic) industry in Australia, you will suffer the same fate as the dairy industry.”

Submissions to the Opportunities for Personal Transport review close on June 12.

The independent taskforce is expected to make its recommendations to the government in July.

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