Uber’s UberX ride-sharing service will be legal from midnight tonight, the NSW government has announced.
Ride-sharing services will be made legal in the state as part of a shake-up of the ‘point to point’ transport sector, the government said.
Uber-style, smartphone-booked services will be allowed under rule changes but taxis will still have exclusive access to the “rank and hail” market, the government said.
Under the new regime, ride-share drivers will be required to get hire car driver authorisation and business registration for their car.
The state government said it would repeal more than 50 taxi and hire car regulations.
To aid the taxi sector, the state government said it would next year table a bill to for a $250 million assistance package to help the industry’s transition to the new model. The package will be funded by a per-trip levy.
“Safety measures are being maintained, to ensure we have strong and enforceable standards across drivers, vehicles and the companies providing the service,” NSW transport minister Andrew Constance said.
To maintain safety, NSW will create a new regulator and introduce a graduated penalty scheme.
“Once parliament resumes, I will introduce legislation to provide for the full reform package including a new regulator and Commissioner to hold all point to point services to account, with significant power and penalties,” Constance said.
“These include the ability to name and shame companies, seek court imposed fines of millions of dollars and in the worst case scenario a two year prison term for their company personnel.
“For the first time the buck will stop with the company making profit from the services – not just the driver.”
NSW Labor leader Luke Foley earlier this year backed the regulation of the ride-sharing sector.
In the lead-up to the state election in March, Uber encouraged customers of its service to contact candidates and urge regulatory reform.