Illawarra taxi users could see reduced fares within months, on the back of new laws being introduced by the NSW government.
Reform of the state’s point to point transport legislation will see a raft of changes come into effect from November 1, including deregulated maximum fares for booked taxi trips and the installation of duress alarms and vehicle-tracking systems in every Wollongong taxi.
NSW Point to Point Transport Commissioner Barbara Wise was in Wollongong on Tuesday to discuss the changes, which she said were aimed at levelling the playing field for taxi, rideshare, tourism and hire car operators.
“The new legislation gives accountability to all industry providers, including rideshare operators [like Uber], for the first time,” Ms Wise said.
“They will have the same safety obligations as everybody else and it really is about making it easier for everybody to compete.”
Ms Wise, who addressed industry representatives on Tuesday morning, said people would see changes to taxi fares over time.
Under the new legislation, operators such as the Illawarra Taxi Network (ITN, formerly Wollongong Radio Cabs), would set prices for booked trips, not the government.
The operator would need to provide a fare estimate before the trip.
Deregulating booked fares would allow operators to differentiate prices and could lead to loyalty discounts or frequent rider programs and fixed fares for longer trips, Ms Wise said.
ITN chairman Mohamad Choubassi welcomed the industry shake-up.
“I’ve got no problem with it, as long as it’s fair to everybody,” Mr Choubassi said.
Asked if customers would see a drop in taxi fares, Mr Choubassi said: “There definitely will be a decrease in it”.
“We’re looking at the weekend rates and all that,” he said.
“We haven’t set anything up yet because we’re not allowed to but we’re definitely looking at it,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal is reviewing the maximum fares charged to passengers who get into a taxi at a rank or hail one on the street.
Taxis would remain the only services able to offer rank and hail fares.
For more information about the changes, visit: transport.nsw.gov.au/projects/programs/point-to-point-transport