Nov 24, 2015

Update - November 2015

The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources have begun an important process that will impact the way taxi businesses are run.  Our industry is overseen by a number of Acts and statutory rules. The Transport (Buses, Taxi-cabs and Other Commercial Passenger Vehicles) Regulations 2005 is the regulatory instruments that concerns our industry.

The regulations expired last year but the State Government extended them for another 12 months, with some minor amendments. The regulations will expire on 30 June 2016.

The Department has asked for industry feedback regarding which regulations should remain and which can be amended or removed.  The VTA has started the process of reviewing the regulations and will provide feedback to Government in the coming months. Once we have a draft of our submission, we will distribute it to our members for comment prior to submitting to the Department.

A key factor in determining which regulations should stay and which should go, relate to their utility. The question that needs to be answered is whether each regulation is still relevant or are they imposing an unnecessary cost on the industry. Our aim is to look at each regulation and consider whether or not it is necessary to deliver a tangible and genuine outcome for the industry and its customers.

In isolation, various regulations may not carry a high cost or be burdensome, but combined they almost certainly do. These costs are bearable if they deliver an outcome that cannot be delivered through less costly alternatives. We will also consider the prescriptive nature of the current regulations and argue for a more outcome-focused set of statutory rules. This is about the need for regulations to give direction on what is required, not dictate how and what products must be used in achieving it. This approach has led to a situation where less costly ways of achieving the desired outcome are inhibited due to the overly prescriptive nature of the regulations.

We will also argue that regulations should not address issues that ‘may’ happen, but rather issues that are ‘likely’ to happen. A key point is that because a requirement is removed from regulation does not mean as a business, you can’t still adhere to it or build it into your business model.

In a less prescriptive environment, each business would have the opportunity to decide which particular practices it will enforce, for the benefit of their customers, drivers and ultimately their business.

An example of this is the boot lock release device. The regulation required that all taxis were to be fitted with an approved boot lock release device. It was implemented to overcome an issue where a person ‘may’ become trapped in a boot. Given this is an unlikely event and comes at a cost to the operator of the taxi, there was good reason to call for the regulation to be removed. If, however, a business considers it important to continue this practice, they can do so, as a part of their company policy, however it is no longer a requirement of law.

At the end of the day this review provides us with an opportunity to argue for changes that will see costs on taxi business reduced without impacting customer safety, service levels or industry revenue (quite the opposite, it could prove beneficial).

If you would like to discuss the matter further please feel free to contact the VTA on 03 9676 2635 or via ghaliday@victaxi.com.au

Update - October 2015

The Transport (Taxi-cab) Regulations 2005 contained most of the rules governing the way taxis operate in Victoria. Regulations in Victoria must be reviewed by Government at least every 10 years. On the 10th anniversary of The Regulations earlier this year, a review made several amendments to the regulations. Most changes were made to ensure consistency with other laws, to combine several sets of regulations that related to taxis, hire cars and buses, and to remove duplication.  The amended regulations are called the Transport (Buses, Taxi-Cabs and Other Commercial Passenger Vehicles) Regulations 2005.

There were too many changes to summarise here but some of the key changes which are relevant to taxi Drivers and Operators are:

Old regulations

New regulations

TSC to approve driver ID holders

Removed - Drivers may now display their ID in any suitable holder. ID holders will still be available from the TSC (now located at 1 Spring Street) at no cost.

Taxis to carry only approved dome lights

Rules have been changed to make the dome light requirements more about function than design. Taxis must still have a light which displays the word ‘taxi’, indicates whether or not the taxi is available for hire and is capable of being operated by from the driver’s seat but the design of the light is now up to operators.

Operators were not permitted to alter the construction of or install equipment in their taxi without approval by the TSC

These provisions have been removed to allow operators greater freedom as to what equipment to install in their taxi. Other Acts may apply, for example the Privacy Act if installing internal facing cameras, so do your homework.

Internal boot lock release devices required in all taxis

Removed – Boot release devices are no longer required but still may be installed at the Operator’s discretion.

Operators not permitted to fit additional signs or stickers inside or outside the taxi without the approval of the TSC

Removed – Operators may now fit any signs or stickers to their taxi without the approval of the TSC so long as they don’t breach the advertising guidelines, interfere with livery requirements and all mandatory signs/stickers are fitted and clearly visible.

All taxis must have a ‘not for hire’ sign to display when not available to passengers.

 

Removed – ‘Not for Hire’ signs are no longer required but still may be fitted at the Operator’s discretion.

Several provisions were made regarding the requirements on Drivers to ‘return or wait’ if requested to do so by a passenger.

Removed – Drivers may make their own arrangements with passengers regarding round trips or pre-booked journeys so long as they follow all other applicable regulations e.g. regarding metering the fare.

Drivers obliged to deliver lost property to Victoria Police.

Removed – Drivers should comply with instructions from the Operator or Network on how to deal with lost property.

 

A more comprehensive review with opportunities for industry consultation will be conducted before July 2016.