Perth taxi drivers have called on the State Government to regulate new taxi app services such as the recently launched Uber, amid claims the State's 5000 licensed drivers are being hung out to dry.
In an often fiery forum in Mirrabooka yesterday, about 100 taxi drivers vented their anger over the introduction of the Uber service, with some at the meeting urging drivers to strike if their expensive taxi licences were not protected.
Although the calls for a strike were quickly hosed down as "the worst thing we could do", the drivers agreed Uber was a major threat and the much-maligned taxi industry needed to act quickly to protect its market.
The meeting, which was convened by the independent Taxi Industry Forum of WA, was called after the Google-backed Uber service was launched in Perth last month.
The passenger service, which is independent of the State's highly regulated taxi industry, lets commuters book Uber vehicles though an app at a small premium to taxi fares.
Transport Minister Dean Nalder said he had asked the Department of Transport to investigate whether the Uber Black service was compliant with WA transport laws.
He said lingering questions over the protection of passengers and drivers and the transparency surrounding fares was being investigated by his department.
Taxi Industry forum chief executive Howard Lance said the competition coming from Uber was fine as long as their drivers abided by the same rules and regulations that they did.
Although the drivers' forum was designed to address the threat of Uber, other issues such as public perception of taxi drivers, the convoluted dispatch service and the performance of the industry's own taxi app were brought to the fore. The stumbling block preventing Uber from a full launch in WA has been the $60 minimum journey fee required to be paid for all licensed charter-service vehicles. Uber, which was contacted for comment, has hired a lobbying firm to convince the State Government to drop the fee.