Nov 14, 2016

In July 2016 the Taxi Services Commission made changes to taxi vehicle specifications. These changes were followed quickly by the Government’s reform announcement. This article seeks to ensure everyone in the industry is clear about the changes.

Effective from 29 July 2016, specifications for taxi-cabs (the specifications) will only apply to wheelchair accessible taxis (WATs).  The specifications will no longer apply to conventional (standard) taxis.

This decision is based on research undertaken by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) to assess whether existing taxi and hire car age limits are appropriate and the implications between the age limits and vehicle safety.  MUARC's research found that there was no clear correlation between the age of a vehicle and its crash risk. As a result, age limits for all taxi-cabs and hire cars have been removed. 

What has changed?

The table below details changes to the previous Specifications for Taxi-Cabs.  


Former requirements now removed

Explanatory comments

Occupant Capacity

Vehicle seating capacity is recorded and administered by VicRoads. 

Access (300mm aisle requirement  for people mover type vehicles)

The TSC encourages alternative motor vehicles to be used as taxis subject to compliance with the Australian Design Rules (ADRs) and standards for registration.  It is the responsibility of the taxi operator to determine their passenger needs in terms of vehicle type and seating layout etc.  The removal of this requirement provides options for taxi operators when sourcing new or second hand vehicles.


This requirement for 'floors to be of sound construction with skid resistant surface' is considered no longer relevant in the context of quality levels of modern vehicles. 

Occupant Comfort

(suitability to become taxi)

The TSC concludes that the market should guide vehicle choice rather than the regulator determining what vehicles are suitable or not suitable for taxi operations. Taxi operators will need to consider their vehicle and passenger needs. 

Seat belts and child restraints

Removed for conventional taxis (anchorage points are a standard fitting in modern vehicles)

Retained for the new Specifications for Wheelchair Accessible Taxi-Cabs) document.

Communication systems (dispatchers)  

Equipment installations must comply with applicable Australian Design Rules (ADRs) – head impact zone, etc. 

Luggage space

The TSC concludes that operators should determine the luggage space required as part of their customer service model.

Exhaust outlet (WATs only)

Onus now on taxi operators (whether exhaust outlets are re-directed for rear loading WATs)

Window tinting

See VicRoads Vehicle Standards Information sheet (VSI2) – no specific requirement for taxis

Approval certificates

This requirement (vehicle modification and engineering certification) is administered by VicRoads

Age limits

Vehicle age limits have been revoked.  Vehicle operating life is a matter for individual taxi operators. 

Gas struts

Onus on taxi operators to ensure driver and passenger safety in the operation of the boot lid.

Spare wheels

Onus on taxi operators to determine whether or not to have a spare wheel or use an alternative (such as a tyre repair kit).

Electronic payment Facilities

The TSC concludes this requirement is no longer relevant (covered in ADRs, regulations)

ADR categories 

Administered by VicRoads (this requirement was carried over from Vehicle Standards Information Bulletin (VSI 31)

Equipment mounting limitations  

Administered by VicRoads (this requirement was carried over from VSI31 and refers to ADRs)


What hasn’t changed?

Despite the removal of age limits, taxi and hire car operators are responsible for ensuring that vehicles are maintained in a safe and roadworthy condition at all times.  Existing regulations about vehicle inspections remain unchanged.  Requirements in respect of livery, security cameras and taximeters still apply.

Wheelchair Accessible Taxi specifications

The new WAT specifications do not impose new requirements on operators.  The new WAT vehicle specification is available on the VTA website.

These specifications relate primarily to the wheelchair and occupant restraint systems, and the allocated floor space for wheelchairs as set out in the Federal Government's Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport (DSAPT).  In the case of vehicles being converted to carry wheelchairs, a VASS report is still confirm that the vehicle continues to meet the Australian Design Rules and other standards.

The VTA support these efforts to reduce the amount of regulation on taxi-cab operators and give greater scope for those running taxi businesses to make their own decisions about the vehicles they use.  The removal also amounts to a reduction in regulatory duplication.