Baird government legalises ride-sharing services like UberX

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New South Wales Premier Mike Baird speaks at a press conference after the siege at a Sydney cafe ended December 16, 2014. Heavily armed Australian police stormed a Sydney cafe on Tuesday and freed a number of hostages being held there at gunpoint, in a dramatic end to a 16-hour siege in which three people were killed and four wounded. Reuters/Jason Reed

The Mike Baird government has finally decided to legalise ride-sharing services such as UberX on Thursday, announcing compensation for those who own taxi license plates. An “industry adjustment package” of $250 million will be established by the NSW government for compensating the drivers.

The NSW has become the second jurisdiction to legalise ride-sharing services after the ACT. The compensation package would include around 6,000 traditional cab drivers and is understood to cover payments of $20,000.

Under the new regulations, ride-sharing will be made legal as well as 50 taxi and car hire regulations will be revoked. A new regulator and commissioner will be appointed to run the industry. NSW Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance said on Thursday that NSW needed a change and thus the government has finally decided to do away with the “out-dated” transport regulations.

"These reforms are expected to blow the doors of innovation wide open for 'booked' services, where customers can track their driver, provide direct feedback, hold them more accountable and choose from accessible price points," Constance said in a statement.

NSW Premier Mike Baird said in a Facebook post that the government has a responsibility towards those who own the taxi license plates, which were sold and regulated by the government. "We are helping consumers to win through having more choice in how they travel and simultaneously being fair to taxi owners as they transition into the future," he posted.

The decision by the Baird government follows that of ACT, which legalised ride-sharing services in October. Legalisation of these services would require ride-sharing drivers would have to pay license fees and ensure they have met all the safety requirements to be able to start operating on the NSW roads.

The existing taxi operators would continue to have access to ranks and can pick up passengers who hail them.

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