A stitch in time …. Queensland needs to follow New York’s example

Media release
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 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.