Uber gets green light from QLD government

In Harmonisation, National Headlines, Queensland, Tourism Routes, Transport

From Fairfax, 29th May 2014

Queensland government gives Uber ride-share the green light

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman won’t be regulating a Google-backed ride-sharing service by smartphone app Uber in Brisbane, even if he prefers his daughters don’t use it.

The taxi industry has lobbied the government to crack down on Uber. The San Francisco-based company has extended services to Australia where it’s seen as a threat by the tightly-knit industry. In addition to taxi and black limousine services, the company has UberX which allows non-taxi drivers to offer rides for cut-price fares.

UberX is limited to licensed drivers, aged at least 24, whose vehicle has at least four doors and was manufactured after 2005. Drivers must have comprehensive insurance and no criminal record.

The Victorian government started issuing $1700-fines to drivers offering paid rides earlier this month. It used the smartphone app to book rides and then fine drivers. Uber has said it will reimburse drivers.

NSW also announced that all drivers must be accredited and is reviewing the Transport Act, but the Queensland premier won’t be following suit.

“We are a deregulation-minded government,” he told ABC radio.

“We don’t believe in more red tape and regulation unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

Mr Newman has some worries the service may not be as safe as traditional taxis, and wouldn’t want his daughters to use it.

“I do have some concerns over the whole thing,” the premier said.

“I’ve got daughters, 19 and 21 – I would prefer them catching a cab because I know about all the safeguards, cameras, trained drivers, GPS locations of cabs real-time.

“Yes [Uber] has safeguards in there as well, but I’d prefer to use a ridgy didge cab.”

Uber has upset regulators and established taxi and hire-car operators worldwide, which claim the services are unsafe. It is only one of a number of smartphone apps seeking to make cab and hire-car booking, tracking and payment easier.

They include Australian challengers GoGatch and Ingogo, and new ride-sharing apps Backseat and RideSurfing who are watching Uber’s progress before launch.

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