Page 3993 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 17 November 2015
However, now is the time for us to embrace the future. New technology and new business models were coming to the ACT even if we tried to hide from them. What this government has done is create a regulatory framework that allows new providers and new technologies into the market but also creates a fair playing field so that our traditional taxi and hire car industries have the opportunity to survive and prosper.
With the exception of recognised improvements in wheelchair accessible taxi services since 2010, the quality of taxi services, including wait times, pricing and the overall travel experience, in the ACT has remained a matter of disparate community opinion. Canberrans have actively looked at other urban transport markets and have seen innovation underway in travel service. They have taken up the opportunity to use these new services too. According to a survey the government undertook during the taxi industry innovation review of just under 2,000 respondents, over 70 per cent had tried ride sharing in other jurisdictions. “Please allow us to take advantage of these innovations,” so many Canberrans have told us through the surveys, in email after email and in social media. They want us to give them the new opportunities. The government is now providing that opportunity, through its reforms following careful review, against our deeply held values for personal safety, protection of property and privacy.
We also paid close attention to our city’s desire for continuing taxi and hire car services. We received over 2,000 responses in various forms to our consultations. Canberrans, individually and collectively, said they wanted more choices. Now, thanks to these amendments people who live in the ACT and people who travel to the ACT have more service options for travel, supported by a legislative framework. Taxis, hire cars, regulated third-party taxi booking services, ride sharing and other new models are now options to choose from.
With these choices come new driver and vehicle experiences. They also present new smart phone applications through which to book services. New fare structures are also being introduced. With our proposed reforms, consumers may face shorter wait times for travel service and they may also, through the competitive environment we have sought to build, experience lower fares overall as well as see competition developing.
More than one new and innovative business model is interested in operating in the ACT. Uber and ONTAP have entered. More are approaching the government to understand the new and open approach and I am sure that Canberrans will appreciate such options as they unfold.
What we want in the ride share industry is an industry that provides strong, baseline service quality and true choices for consumers for years to come. Such an industry must be competitive, viable and sustainable. Through the amendments in this bill and other reform measures, we have introduced a better equity of costs for the entire breadth of industry suppliers, existing and new. The first stage of reforms introduces a signiﬁcant reduction in key costs facing the taxi industry and hire car operators. In the second stage, regulatory fees will be required for booking services, drivers and operators participating in ride sharing.