September 19, 2018
The recently introduced passenger ban by Uber is only the tip of the iceberg as the public and platform’s own drivers continue to be disadvantaged, warns the Taxi Council of Queensland (TCQ).
Earlier this week, Uber, introduced a six month ban for any of its passengers with a rating of less than four out of five. Uber, with more than 7,000 drivers on busy Brisbane roads, says it’s introducing the ban following feedback from its drivers.
However, TCQ doesn’t believe the ban is being brought in through concern for its drivers as recent events around the globe show Uber continues to act with only superficial regard for the safety of its passengers and drivers.
TCQ CEO, Blair Davies, is all for safeguarding drivers from abusive and dangerous passengers but believes Uber’s ban is little more than a publicity stunt which will have little real benefit.
“This ban is really just another example of Uber washing its hands of responsibility for looking after its drivers,” he said. “If they were serious about addressing that issue then they would make safety technology compulsory in their vehicles, just like taxis do with their high quality tamperproof security cameras and hardwired GPS tracking.
“Instead, they are introducing a temporary ban which still leaves their drivers and passengers extremely vulnerable, as this is just more window dressing and distraction rather than a serious effort to address very serious safety problems. Uber and other booked-hire platforms continue to refuse to make that investment, placing everyone at risk for the sake of profits.
“Profits which do not stay in and contribute to Australia but which leach out of the country,” said Mr Davies.
This month saw Uber and other booked-hire platform drivers come together in Chicago, USA, to protest the poor working conditions and low wages they endure. Many of those complaints center around below minimum wage payments, as well as abuses suffered while driving in vehicles with no security cameras fitted.
Yet Uber has only trialed passenger bans in Brazil, and now Australia and New Zealand. That fact, coupled with Uber’s refusal to introduce a new passenger safety report to these shores, as it has in the USA, has led TCQ to question whether the company sees its Australian operation and passengers as anything other than a cash cow.
“This is a foreign company which has come into our towns and cities to congest our roads with extra vehicles driven by poorly paid drivers, undermines our existing infrastructure and business communities, fails to take passenger and road safety seriously, and then rip its profits out of our country.
“If it wants to deliver on its so far empty promises about responsible corporate citizenship and safety being a priority then Uber would make passenger safety reports available everywhere it operates. Why in America, but not Australia?
“Is it simply that Uber doesn’t value its Australian passengers as much as others?
“Prior to the invasion of these booked-hire platforms, taxi driving was a business that allowed Queenslanders to make a reasonable living while providing an essential service in their local communities.
“It’s time for the Queensland Government to stand up not only our industry but all Queenslanders across the State and say ‘enough is enough’ to the likes of Uber. If they want to operate here then they should treat their drivers, passengers, and wider society with the proper respect deserved,” concluded Mr Davies.
31 August 2018
A recent report of a passenger murdered by a DiDi driver in China has raised serious concerns from the Taxi Council of Queensland (TCQ), demanding the Queensland Government take a more comprehensive look at how booked-hire platforms perform overseas before allowing them to enter the Queensland market.
TCQ is urging the State Government to act before it’s too late and critically review its role as a protector of public safety in the personalised transport sector as the Chinese booked-hire platform considers further expansion in Australia.
TCQ CEO, Blair Davies, says it is not an anti-competition position the Council holds, but a view that the Government has a crucial role to play in regulating to keep passengers and drivers safe in the personalised transport sector.
“We’ve heard it time and time again, booked-hired drivers being involved in unsavoury, predatory situations endangering passengers and other road users, and yet there has been no serious response from the Department of Transport to critically review the impacts and criteria on allowing these platforms to enter our market,” said Mr Davies.
“The Queensland Government needs to seriously up its game particularly in regard to the international platforms entering and operating in Queensland or they will run the risk of more dangerous, unsafe incidences occurring on our streets.
“How these platforms operate overseas is literally a window to how they will operate in Queensland. When their safety plans and procedures fail passengers overseas, they are just as likely to fail vulnerable Queenslanders.
“We won’t stand back and watch more passengers suffer from the lack of security in booked-hire vehicles because some politicians and bureaucrats want to tell us the community needs more choice and it doesn’t matter if that comes at the expense of public safety. Nobody needs more choice when that means putting some vulnerable members of the Queensland community at unnecessary risk of becoming the victims of heinous crimes.
“As DiDi eyes further expansion across Australia, it’s never been more vital to look at their track record overseas to consider the impact it could have on Queensland passengers and roads.”
With booked-hire services’ safety standards and measures barely existent in comparison to Queensland taxis, Mr Davies says the Queensland Government can’t continue to jeopardise the safety of Queenslanders for the profit of global platforms.
“This latest incident in China is just yet another example of the gaping discrepancies between the booked-hire services and taxis. These operators are taking short-cuts instead of concrete steps to vet their drivers and put proper safety measures in place,” he continues.
“We urge the State Government to see the incident in China as a wakeup call and make a stronger commitment to protect the safety of our passengers and drivers. They need to place these platforms under stricter scrutiny, otherwise I fear we could be hearing of more tragedies like the ones reported in China, right here in Queensland,” concludes Mr Davies.
22 August 2018
The Queensland Government is being urged to have a look at the problems in New York City caused by the seemingly endless numbers of booked-hire vehicles gridlocking Manhattan streets and slowing traffic flows city-wide. While it may have originally been touted as a possible solution to traffic congestion, Uber vehicles have demonstrated themselves to be a major cause for progressively worsening congestion problems.
Last week, New York City finally decided something needed to be done and its Council voted to introduce a cap on the number of booked-hire vehicles allowed to operate in the city. It was something of a bold step because Mayor de Blasio had headed down this path in 2015 before an aggressive campaign by Uber caused him to back down and retreat. This time around though, with the problem continuing to get worse and worse, the New York City Council have been able to find the steely resolve necessary for regaining control of their streets.
The Taxi Council of Queensland (TCQ) is urging the Government not to wait until it is too late in our State. Traffic congestion is a huge problem in Brisbane and surrounding areas and with booked-hire vehicles already outnumbering taxis by more than three to one it’s time for the Government to act. The Government already has the power under legislation passed last year to cap the number of booked-hire vehicles and so they just need to start using those powers.
TCQ CEO, Blair Davies, believes the window of opportunity to take meaningful preventative action is closing quickly.
“It is good that New York finally found the courage to stand up to companies like Uber and take back control of their streets. The Queensland Government should do the same without further delay. It’s about putting the public good above private sector profits, and in the case of Queensland, there’s even more reason to do so because the profits we’re talking about don’t stay in the State or even in the Australia,” Mr Davies said.
“The Queensland Government cannot take a year or two to learn the lessons of New York. The advantages of capping booked-vehicle numbers diminish significantly the later the cap is introduced. Implementing a cap after the number of vehicles reaches an oversaturation point may risk being too late, just like shutting the gate after the horse has bolted. The Government needs to be thinking along the lines of a stitch in time saves nine.”
With more and more international booking platforms entering the Australian market, Mr Davies says all drivers in the personalised transport sector will feel the strain even more as they fight for their viability.
“We can’t let our roads be overrun for the benefit and profit of global platforms. You just have to have a look at the Brisbane CBD on Friday and Saturday nights – its inundated with booked-hire vehicles circling around, hungry to find passengers, hunting for opportunity and putting lives and safety at risk with reckless behaviour,” Mr Davies continued.
“We’re bound to see more and more booked-hire drivers chasing the same pool of available fares and there is no way they can make a decent living this way. As their slice of the pie gets smaller, it would not be surprising to hear of more drivers using devious and bogus tactics to rip off passengers to make an extra buck.
“More vehicles on the road is also seriously bad for the environment, because more vehicles and more congestion cannot do anything other than result in more unnecessary pollution.
“We urge the State Government to see the problems experienced in New York and say we’re not going to allow Queensland to fall into the same trap. They have the legislative power already and so it’s just a matter of using it,” concluded Mr Davies.
August 10, 2018
The Royal Queensland Show (Ekka) is a key highlight in the Queensland calendar year, attracting on average 400,000 people from across the Sunshine State and beyond. As throngs of people make their way to the first day of the show today, the Taxi Council of Queensland (TCQ) is encouraging everyone to grab a cab for a stress-free and convenient commute to the show.
Show goers can avoid the hassle of traffic, crowded waits for trains, the agony of searching for a parking spot and the inevitable high cost of secure parking by grabbing a cab that can take you directly to and from the action.
This year’s show sees the return of the special taxi rank conveniently located on Costin Street, which is close to Gate 1 and it will have experienced taxi supervisors marshalling cabs and assisting passengers on site from 2:00pm – 10:00pm every day with two supervisors on duty during peak times from 4:00pm-8:00pm.
TCQ CEO, Blair Davies says taxis are a safer and more convenient option for those visiting from interstate or the country, as well as Brisbane locals.
“The Ekka is one of Brisbane’s biggest events. Sometimes folk travelling from outside of our city can find our congested roads confusing and intimidating at this time of year,” he said.
“And country visitors in particular need to be careful of ‘city-slickers’ with their surge pricing and their touting for fares in plain, unmarked vehicles. Taxis are a much smarter option with their calibrated taximeters and easily identifiable livery and hail lights. They are also safer because they’re fitted with sophisticated security cameras, monitored duress alarm systems and hard-wired GPS devices.
“Whether a visitor or a local, everyone grabbing a cab can be confident knowing they’re in reliable and safe hands commuting to and from the Show.”
Taxis can also pick up and drop off along O’Connell Terrace near Gate 5 and Machinery Street, near Gate 2, giving attendees greater options on getting straight to the action they want to see.
“We’re expecting the busiest times to be from 6:00pm-8:00pm so make sure you plan ahead to enjoy a quick ride to the show.
“Taxis are a perfect option for groups and families travelling together, and especially for the trip home with armfuls of showbags or after a few at the Cattleman’s Bar. Easiest of all, just wander out through Gate 1 to our taxi rank in Costin Street and jump into a waiting cab.
“Our cabbies are ready and waiting to help customers get to and from the Ekka safely and enjoyably. So take the worry out of how to get there, and just grab a cab as the smart travel option, for Queensland’s largest and most loved annual events” concluded Mr Davies.