Time to push the button and cap booked-hire vehicle numbers

Media release
14 June 2019

Queensland’s peak taxi body is calling for the State Government to learn from New York City’s mistakes and introduce a cap on the number of booked-hire vehicles allowed to operate on our roads before it’s too late.

This week, New York City imposed the harshest ever set of regulations for app based, for-hire vehicles to crack down on the number of these vehicles cruising the streets while empty looking for their next fare and causing city wide congestion. The measures follow the introduction of a cap last year on the number of booked-hire vehicles allowed to operate in the city.

In 2018, New York City finally managed to implement a cap on booked-hire vehicles after Mayor de Blasio had tried and failed back in 2015. The Mayor was forced to backdown on his original plan following an aggressive campaign by Uber. It is something that Mayor de Blasio regrets to this day having now seen the resulting detrimental impact on the city’s roads and workers in the personalised transport industry.

The Taxi Council of Queensland (TCQ) has previously called for the State Government to introduce a cap on booked-hire vehicles and is recommending that they learn from New York’s regrets of acting too late.

“The situation in New York should act as a cautionary tale for our State Government.  New York has been inundated with a flood of booked-hire vehicles gridlocking Manhattan streets, causing massive strain on the city’s traffic flow. Mayor de Blasio’s regret in not implementing a cap and stronger regulations back in 2015 has clearly not just impacted the livelihoods of hardworking taxi drivers, it has choked the roads and polluted the skies for every New Yorker,” TCQ CEO Mr Blair Davies said.

“The Queensland Government cannot take a year or two to learn the lessons of New York; the time to act is now. The later a cap is introduced, and stronger safety regulations put in place, the less effective they will be. The Government needs to press the pause button to cap booked-hire vehicles at their current number. They also need to pick up the pace on their Stage 3 review of the Personalised Transport reforms and tighten regulations around passenger safety as soon as possible.”

With more and more overseas booking platforms entering the Australian market, Mr Davies says all drivers in the personalised transport sector are feeling the strain as they compete to make a living.

“The fact that New York has now had to impose such harsh regulations, is a clear tale of how badly a hands-off strategy works in this space. The overseas booking platforms will happily put more and more cars on our streets, to the detriment of their own drivers, taxi drivers and other road users. They just don’t care and in any case they don’t live here.

“We urge the State Government to heed Mayor de Blasio’s regret and say we’re not going to allow Queensland to fall into the same trap of wishing we had done the right thing way back when,” concluded Mr Davies.