THE State Government has announced measures to soften the blow felt by taxi drivers as the deregulation of the on-demand transport industry, including services like Uber, draws closer.
Legislation proposing the deregulation of the industry is set to be tabled in Parliament, much to the dismay of taxi drivers.
But the Government has acknowledged the public wants to see more choice in the industry, and is determined to help taxi drivers adapt to the changes.
Some of the reforms include the introduction of a new on-demand transport licence category, and moving on-demand transport licence fees towards a cost-recovery based model.
The cap on a five-plate limit for taxi licence owners will be removed to help the industry cope with the increase in competition.
“Customers want more choice and easier access to on-demand services and the current regulations do not accommodate these important customer needs,” Transport Minister Dean Nalder said.
“We need to ensure the regulatory environment for on-demand transport is brought into the 21st century.
“To support the industry through this major change, the Government is providing adjustment help of $20,000 for each Perth metropolitan owned conventional taxi plate purchased prior to December 18, 2015.”
The funds are from a $27.5 million “transition assistance package”, including a $6 million “hardship fund”, and $1.5 million set aside for “adjustment help and business support”.
Uber has been operating in Perth for two years, and there are more than 3000 registered drivers.
Uber Perth boss Tom White declared most of its drivers would likely quit if they were hit with another licensing fee, and said the government announcement marked a “dark day for ride sharing”.
But Shofer, another ride-sharing company, welcomed the announcement.
“Shofer fully supports and welcomes the government initiative on creating a level playing field by inviting all players into the regulatory tent,” Shofer CEO David Mills said.
“We also appreciate that taxis will continue to have exclusive access to the rank and hail markets, and we are comfortable with that.”