New NSW legislation to address taxi and ridesharing services23 June 2016
The growing popularity of ridesharing in Australia has required a review of the passenger transport industry and highlighted the need to create legislation to deal with the issues that have arisen. The NSW Government has responded by yesterday passing the Point to Point (Taxis and Hire Vehicles) Bill 2016.
The Bill looks to reform the regulation of taxi and point to point transport services to promote a positive safety culture for the industry and the community, while embracing ridesharing as a new form of passenger transport.
The legislation will deregulate the industry and encourage greater competition and innovation, as well as provide a framework that creates a risk-based scheme on the ridesharing industry that will be similar to the scheme created by the work health and safety (WHS) legislation.
The Bill was introduced to Parliament off the back of reports and studies conducted by the Point to Point Taskforce. The Taskforce was set up by the NSW Government to consider and review issues arising out of the previously unregulated ridesharing industry. The Taskforce worked with customers, the taxi industry, hire car companies and other stakeholders to review the sustainability and competition in the market, the impact of emerging technologies (such as the Uber and Go-Catch ridesharing apps), customer safety and any shortcomings of existing passenger transport legislation. The Bill adopts a similar framework to that under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW), and imposes duties on passenger and booking service providers and officers and workers of the providers. It requires duty holders to address safety risks and protect passengers.
Some of the key features of the reform include:
- A primary duty to ensure the health and safety of drivers and other persons, so far as reasonably practicable.
- A duty of officers to exercise due diligence (noting that the Bill provides guidance as to what reasonable steps can be taken in this regard).
- A duty of drivers to take reasonable care for their own safety and to make sure that their acts or omissions do not adversely affect the safety of others.
- The drafting of Regulations to provide further guidance on compliance with the legislation.
- The appointment of a Commissioner to operate as the Regulator of the legislation.
- The appointment of authorised officers to exercise functions under the legislation.
- The creation of maximum penalties as follows:
Category 1: Where a person who engages in conduct, without a reasonable excuse, that exposes an individual to whom the duty is owed to a risk of death or serious injury or illness if the person is reckless as to the risk.
Category 2: Where a person has a duty under the legislation and fails to comply with the duty so that an individual is exposed to a risk of death or serious injury or illness.
Category 3: Where a person fails to comply with their duty under the legislation.
What does this mean for the community and workplaces?
The introduction of this legislation is designed to encourage greater emphasis on safety in the ridesharing industry, which may lead more organisations to consider it as an alternative form of safe travel for their workers. The impact of this legislation on the taxi industry may increase competition in the market, providing organisations and individuals with greater choice and, possibly, more efficient and cost effective transport.