NSW to remove cap on taxi licences

·3-min read

There will be no limit on the number of taxis in NSW, with taxi licences no longer able to be bought and sold under major reforms announced by the state government.

The move to further deregulate the struggling taxi industry is meant to help taxi businesses, drivers and users, the government says.

But it will leave licence holders concerned about how much financial assistance they will receive.

Abolishing the cap on the number of taxi licences will mean taxis can operate freely and based on actual demand patterns, the government says.

The move should lower prices for consumers by removing the costs associated with the licence and make taxis more affordable compared to ride share options like Uber.

The maximum fare limit for most rank and hail trips will also be removed. The exceptions will be for customers with a disability or those hailing a cab from Sydney Airport.

The government says it will provide financial assistance to licence owners affected by the change but did not quantify that compensation.

Sydney taxi licences were worth around $100,000 in February 2020, down from $220,000 in December 2015.

Licence holders in the regions, as well as those who haven't had enough time to recover the cost of their investment, will be given priority for assistance.

Taxi drivers will still require a licence but instead of trading for them, drivers will apply to a Point to Point Transport Commissioner for a licence.

When they get one, drivers will be able to operate anywhere in the state.

The change is part of a suite of reforms to the taxi industry, recommended by an independent review into the point to point transport industry published in February 2021.

The review found taxis struggle to compete with the ride share industry under the existing NSW model.

Taxis currently require an expensive licence to operate, and lease schemes mean the owner of the licence is not always the same business using the licence.

The government accepted the review's 24 recommendations in whole, in part or in principle.

"We're cracking on with our plan to deliver important changes to the point to point industry so providers can come back strong after suffering through drought, bushfires, floods and the COVID-19 pandemic," NSW transport minister Andrew Constance said.

Peak body NSW Taxi Council said in a statement it was focusing on ensuring fair compensation for all taxi licence owners in the state.

The organisation doesn't believe the government should accept all the review's recommendations without adjustment.

Getting it wrong would result in cut services, lower driver pay and the use of taxpayer funds to underwrite services in regional NSW, the council says.

It wants a requirement that point to point transport providers must offer a complete mix of vehicles including wheelchair-accessible vehicles, rather than cherrypicking the most profitable cars.

The government says it plans to consult on the reforms, and the NSW Taxi Council says it has accepted a government invitation to work together.

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