Uber could run Illawarra taxis into the ground, claims Taxi Council chair

Ride share service Uber could put an end to taxis in the Illawarra, according to the chair of an industry body. Picture: Gene J Puskar
Ride share service Uber could put an end to taxis in the Illawarra, according to the chair of an industry body. Picture: Gene J Puskar

Uber could end up running the taxi industry out of the Illawarra, according to the industry chairman.

But recent figures from the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART)  show taxis hold a majority of market share in the region.

Brian Wilkins is the chair of the NSW Taxi Council and owner of Milton-Ulladulla Taxis.

He said the taxi industry has been “cut to ribbons” in the wake of deregulation.

The Illawarra taxi industry in particular has been hit hard by Uber’s arrival in the region in March last year, according to Mr Wilkins.

“The way to Wollongong cabs are going, they won’t withstand Uber,” Mr Wilkins said.

He said cheaper transport options than taxis have caused issues for the Wollongong industry.

“Wollongong is a uni town,” he said.

“They have the free bus that runs which isn’t helping them and now they have Uber there as well.”

Mr Wilkins said a Wollongong driver told him he sat for half-an-hour without a job at 12am on a Friday, something which was “unheard of”.  

There is animosity between taxis and Uber drivers.

Some Uber drivers have claimed taxi drivers have confronted them while on the job.

In November last year, Uber driver Rosemary Paterson said a taxi driver threw coffee over her car while transporting passengers.

Mr Wilkins said the anger among Ilawarra taxi drivers had reached fever pitch.

“I went to a meeting in Wollongong a couple of weeks ago with taxi drivers and owners and had to stop them from having a riot,” he said.

“It took some talking, I can tell you; they were ready to riot and block the streets, you name it.”

In its draft report into taxi fares outside Sydney, IPART found that as recently as September last year the market share for taxis in Wollongong was 67 per cent compared to 33 per cent for all ride-share services.

An Uber spokeswoman did not say whether it wanted to run taxis out of town.

“The NSW government’s point to point transport reforms have given people more choice and expanded the reach of safe, reliable and affordable transport options across the state,” the spokeswoman said.

“The government’s own Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal has reported that taxi trips have remained stable and have actually increased over the last two years.​ ​

“The reforms have grown the pie for the whole industry and demand for taxis has remained stable.”

The spokeswoman also declined to say how many drivers were operating in the Illawarra.

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