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Private drivers breaking the law

Monday, 28th April, 2014

BH cabbie Charles Pitt has worked as an accredited driver for the last three years. Now unaccredited drivers are moving in on the industry in the big cities. BH cabbie Charles Pitt has worked as an accredited driver for the last three years. Now unaccredited drivers are moving in on the industry in the big cities.

By Nick Gibbs

Private drivers who act as a public taxi service are violating the terms of the NSW Passenger Act, according to the manager of Broken Hill Yellow Taxis. 

Terry Capper said that, according to the Act, operators and drivers who run a public passenger service without proper accreditation could both be liable.

“Anybody that carries out a public passenger service for a fare or other consideration must be authorised,” Mr Capper said.

These other considerations may include offering drivers money for fuel, however he said the law was more applicable to picking people up at a certain price per head rather than chipping in for petrol after an extended journey.

His comments come as an internet app which connects private drivers with paying customers gains popularity in the capital cities.

Users can request a ride, compare rates for different vehicles and pay using a built in credit card function.

“On-demand service means no reservation required and no waiting in taxi lines,” its website states. “An entirely new and modern way to travel is at your finger tips.”

It says drivers in Sydney must be at least 24 years old with an Australian driver’s licence, comprehensive car insurance, no criminal record and a vehicle less than nine years old.  

“It’s something we wouldn’t like to happen here,” Mr Capper said, explaining that taxi drivers were subject to police and working with children checks as well as regular accreditation. 

Co-owner of Independent Taxis in Broken Hill, Gary Thompson, agreed that private drivers acting as cabbies was not a big problem here.

Mr Thompson said that Independent did run a number of hire cars but that all drivers and vehicles were subject to the same accreditation procedures and were not allowed to pick up customers off the street.

“Some people prefer hire cars, they tend to be a bit more luxurious,” he said.

The NSW Taxi Council wants the government to “uphold the law” and crack down on the app.

“Regulations for public passenger services are there to protect the public interest, including ensuring drivers undergo rigorous background checks, vehicles meet a minimum standard and that organisations are held accountable for both public and driver safety,” said Taxi Council chief Roy Wakelin-King.

“The industry, through taxi networks, is accountable under the law for ensuring there are effective safety and reliability systems in place.”

The app has been banned in parts of Europe and the US. -BDT/AAP

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