Victorian Taxi Association CEO David Samuel was a guest of the Asia Taxi Forum Conference 2016 in Singapore in July.
In addition to meeting with the VTA counterpart organisation in Singapore and other taxi companies during his stay, he was asked to address conference delegates on two key topics – the future regulation of commercial passenger vehicle services, and Victoria’s Multi-Purpose Taxi Program.
Below is a brief overview of his presentation.
Regulating ride hail services
The VTA recognises the need for systemic change - change that has the potential to transform the commercial passenger vehicle (CPV) industry. We see such changes as necessary to ensure that the industry can meet and adapt to the changing needs and expectations of our passengers and the broader community. While we recognise that change is necessary, the current regulatory settings impede and restrict the ability of the businesses that make up our industry to achieve this.
The VTA has spent significant time and resources developing, refining, consulting on and presenting what we believe is a comprehensive, sustainable and equitable way forward for regulating ride hail services alongside all forms of commercial passenger vehicle services.
The focus is to ensure services are effectively regulated while also creating a competitive market with a simple set of rules for all market participants.
Our key recommendations for the road ahead in CPV regulation include:
- A single CPV licence type with appropriate licence conditions depending on how operators wish to run their business and service customers. The change to such an arrangement would require Government to make fair provision for transition for those licence holders who would be affected and the removal of perpetual licences from the market.
- Regulated driver accreditation processes remain, with responsibility for driver training and performance management vested with companies that operate CPV services.
- Uniform insurance requirements be enforced for all operators of CPVs.
- Fares for all CPVs are deregulated, with an appropriate transition period, to enable real competition between providers for drivers and customers and to moderate surging behaviour. This may begin with the deregulation of pre-booked fares only.
- The existing taxi licence zone structure be retained for all CPV operators with licences offered at two distinct annual price points.
- Revise penalty and sanction regime for breaches of simplified regulations for both individuals and companies to ensure compliance with rules costs less than non-compliance.
The Multi-Purpose Taxi Program
The Multi-Purpose Taxi Program (MPTP) acts as a leading model in the provision of subsidised door-to-door transport for individuals who rely on it for their independence, mobility and social inclusion.
The MPTP scheme is $60M State Government program that subsidises travel for people with a permeant disability. Users receive a 50% subsidy for each trip up to the value of $60. The scheme is bigger, in funding terms, than amounts spent by every other State and Territory Government in Australia combined.
The session will look at the appropriateness of the scheme, its performance and its sustainability - including emerging threats to it. The VTA has made a significant number of submissions on the scheme, and while remaining strongly supportive of it, have recommended some changes.
In an increasingly competitive context for CPV services, we are of the view that WAT services (which we will use as a shorthand for disability services) need to be regulated separately. This is because, incentives need to be maintained to ensure the appropriate supply of vehicles, operators and drivers and to ensure changes can be effected quickly as necessary.
The VTA does not perceive any significant issues with the booking of WAT services, it is in the fulfilment of these requests that both customers and networks, and even in some cases operators, encounter frustration.
This is fundamentally driven by a number of factors: the tension between the oversupply of WAT vehicles; the difficulty and therefore lack of enforcement of licence and driver accreditation conditions; the diseconomies associated with trying to combine general and specialised services and the higher costs associated with WAT operations; the confused web of incentives and payments; and the geographically dispersed nature of the metropolitan service area.