Transport for NSW has scotched ride-sharing app Uber's plans to enlist motorists who are not taxi drivers to pick up paying passengers.
The government department has responded to Uber, and services of its ilk, which allows anyone to offer a taxi-like service via a smartphone app, with the release of a firmly worded statement.
“The law is clear and has not changed: if a NSW driver is taking paying members of the public as passengers, the driver and the vehicle must operate in accordance with the Passenger Transport Act,” a Transport for NSW spokesperson said.
“Under the Act, such services must be provided in a licensed taxi or hire car, by an appropriately accredited driver, authorised by Roads and Maritime Services," the Transport for NSW statement said.
“The Act requires drivers to be fit and proper persons and vehicles to comply with specific standards to ensure an appropriate standard of safety for customers.
Further, a person who carries on a public passenger service in breach of the Act may face prosecution and fines of up to $110,000, the statement said.
"However, these laws do not apply to, for example, a group of friends sharing expenses or a car pooling arrangement between colleagues sharing a ride to the office.”
Roads and Maritime Services is the agency responsible for enforcing the Passenger Transport Act and any driver authorised by RMS is required to undergo a police check.
Under the proposed new passenger transport laws announced earlier this month by the NSW Government, all taxis offering services to customers – whether via apps and other booking services, at ranks or by street hails - must be licensed taxis with authorised drivers and using the taxi meter.
None of these requirements will change. Any taxi booking service, including apps, must make sure that these requirements are always met, or risk losing their authorisation to operate as a booking service.
All existing requirements that protect customer and driver safety will continue – including duress alarms, GPS tracking and security cameras – and be subject to taxi network control, as is currently the case.