​South Australia to legalise UberX-like services from July 1

Ride-booking services such as UberX will soon be able to legally operate on South Australia's roads following a shake up of the state's taxi and chauffeur vehicle industry.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The South Australian government has on Tuesday announced that ride-booking services such as UberX will be allowed to operate on the state's roads from July 1, 2016.

The announcement was made by Premier Jay Weatherill, confirming that changes have been made to the state's taxi and chauffeur vehicle industry to invite healthy competition.

"Innovative technologies, such as smartphone apps to book, track, and pay for these services, and new business models, such as 'rideshare' schemes, have recently expanded the range of point-to-point transport available," the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure says on its website.

"This will lead to greater choice and more competitive fares for customers, and fresh business opportunities for new and existing operators."

According to the state government, changes needed to be made to the industry that encapsulates the taxi, chauffeur, and ride-booking services to allow the point-to-point transport industry to take advantage of digital trends and sustainable growth.

Some of the changes to the state's regulatory regime will include the creation of Transport Booking Service entities to replace the current Centralised Booking Service system for taxis and to provide ride-booking services for chauffeur vehicles.

It will also see drivers for ride-booking services provide their vehicle for inspection every six months, and to seek appropriate compulsory third party (CTP) insurance premiums, similar to what was discussed last month by the New South Wales government.

Taxis will retain exclusive rights to rank and hail work, and driver training will become the duty of the relevant booking service.

The legalisation of ride-booking services comes a fortnight after the state opposition announced its intention to introduce legislation to allow the likes of UberX to operate in South Australia.

Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said at the time that "ridesharing" is an opportunity to increase competition, provide more choice, and improve transport reliability and customer service to the state.

"This is about giving commuters the choice they want when it comes to transport options in South Australia," he said. "It's also about creating much-needed jobs."

Marshall said South Australia needed a transport system that was responsive to the changing needs of commuters.

"This is an exciting opportunity and we must act now to catch the innovation wave and avoid being left behind," he said.

South Australia joins New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory in allowing the service to operate on its roads.

At midnight on December 18, 2015, the NSW government gave the green light to ride-booking services, allowing them to operate on the state's roads, joining joining the Australian Capital Territory as the only states or territories to legalise the service at the time.

The Victorian government is gearing up to follow suit by regulating Uber in the state by working on a regime that addresses passenger safety, driver and vehicle standards, and insurance issues; whilst the Queensland government previously said it would be reviewing its taxi strategy, and has not ruled out the co-existence of taxis and Uber services on the state's roads.

In Western Australia, the state's Department of Transport released its green paper in July which centred on regulating the transport industry and ensuring consumer safety, with Minister for Transport Dean Nalder hoping to "simplify this with a single piece of legislation".

The Northern Territory, however, is not expecting Uber drivers to legally cruise Darwin's streets any time soon, with the NT government announcing reforms to its taxi industry last month, saying it "will not be making any regulatory changes authorising point to point ridesharing transport services".

However, in Tasmania, local media previously reported that legislation will be introduced to allow Uber to operate in the state as the Liberals move on their promise to open Tasmania to the sharing economy.

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