21 Jan 2015

Review of taxi laws welcomed

6:20 am on 21 January 2015

The Taxi Federation has welcomed a review of rules for taxis and private hire car services saying it is overdue in light of services such as Uber.

Craig Foss.

Craig Foss. Photo: NATIONAL PARTY

Announcing the review yesterday, associate transport minister Craig Foss said it would focus on whether the rules adequately covered the use of new technologies, such as apps used for booking vehicles.

Mr Foss said booking apps were broadly compatible with the current law as long as there was a clear distinction between a taxi and a private hire service.

By law, private hire cars must be booked in advance and a quote produced for the journey.

But smartphone apps, such as that offered by online company Uber, mean private cars can now be summoned as quickly as taxis.

That has created tension between the services; with the Taxi Federation saying Uber effectively allows the instant hailing of unmarked cars.

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Photo: AFP

"The idea when private hire was set up was that if you were having a wedding or going to the airport you'd call and book three or four days in advance," said federation executive director Roger Heale. "With the advent of technology that's been reduced to just a 'tap tap' on a cellphone."

Mr Heale said the practice was similar to hailing a vehicle, which legally only taxis can respond to.

Mr Foss said he met with representatives of the taxi and hire care industries late last year and there was a range of views that had to be taken into account in the review. He expected it to be completed by the middle of the year.