The Australian public are being fooled into believing a deregulated taxi industry will lead to better services and lower prices, when the opposite is true, according to the Chief Executive of Taxi Council Queensland, Benjamin Wash.
Mr Wash said he was speaking out to stop the "blatant misinformation being peddled by Victorian Taxi Industry Inquiry Chair Professor Allan Fels, which was creating uncertainly within the industry across Australia.
"In Queensland we enjoy a stable taxi industry backed by an understanding Government that protects customers through sensible regulation.
"Yet Professor Fels, in preparing his report, failed to visit any booking company in Queensland. If he was truly interested in solutions he would have found out why the system works well here"
Mr Wash also criticised Professor Fels' support of taxi apps and hire cars that operate outside the regulated system.
"The taxi industry has no problems with any smartphone app or hire car company as long as they play by the same rules, become taxi booking companies and guarantee the same level of customer service and support as every other booking company," he explained.
Mr Wash warned that industry deregulation – a position favoured by Fels – will lead to "industry chaos, poor customer service, low supply of taxis and skyrocketing prices", something that overseas markets are already experiencing.
He cited a recent example where Uber – a company now operating in Australia – charged $284 for a fare that would usually cost around $50 due to high demand on New Years Eve.
After complaining to Uber, the customer was told he was being charged "surge pricing".
"This is blatant price gouging under a sexed up name and it will happen in Australia under a deregulated market," Mr Wash predicted.
"That cannot happen under the current system. How can Professor Fels support customers being charged five times the usual fare?"
Mr Wash said regulation developed through years of dialogue and cooperation between the industry and government was currently protecting customers, drivers and owners.
"History tells us that deregulation of service industries rarely results in lower prices. but almost always opens the door to exploitative behaviour."
"We all want a taxi industry that provides great service, value and safety. But the road to achieving that is to ensure there is one playing field that provides protection for all."
Link to Uber hire car charging $284 and calling it "Surge Pricing" - http://www.9news.com/news/article/308403/222/Uber-expensive-New-Years-price-hike-angers-customers--concerns-officials