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Another Uber domino falls

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Controversial ride-sharing service Uber X will be legal in two more Australian jurisdictions, with NSW and Western Australia both moving to change their transport regulations in the past 24 hours.

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The NSW Government yesterday moved to regulate Uber X – effective at midnight last night – after the state cabinet agreed to give it the green light.

The Western Australian Government is expected to make a similar move today.

Both jurisdictions follow the ACT, which legalised Uber X in October.

Uber X allows people to book rides via an app, which tracks cars, drivers and passengers. Drivers use their own cars to pick up passengers.

Uber X services remain illegal in South Australia, according to the State Government. However, the Government is undertaking a review of the taxi industry with the goal of increasing innovation and improving customers services. The review is expected to make recommendations about bringing ride-sharing services into the regulatory fold.

The NSW decision is considered to be a blow to the taxi industry which has lobbied hard against its fresh rival.

“There is no doubt some members will do it very tough and will feel significantly challenged,” the NSW Taxi Council said.

It said the taxi industry is resilient however and urged the state government to “ensure there is a genuine level playing field”.

Uber X drivers will have to pay a $45 licence fee, undergo criminal checks and have their cars checked for safety under the changes.

Operating costs will be slashed for taxi drivers and more than 50 “red tape” regulations repealed in a bid to help the industry adjust.

The state’s perpetual taxi plate holders will also receive $20,000 per plate for a maximum of two plates and taxis will continue to have exclusive access to cab ranks and hail jobs.

The changes, which are expected to generate $30 million in benefits for the industry each year, should have flow-on effects for customers, Transport Minister Andrew Constance said.

He said the reforms would also pave the way for thousands of new and cheaper services, including a ride-sharing service currently being developed by the NRMA.

Uber Australia said its latest legal win was a reflection of Sydneysiders’ support of the service.

“Ridesharing is not only revolutionising the transportation status quo but also helping make Sydney a more economically vibrant, better connected and more sustainable city,” Uber Australia and NZ general manager, David Rohrsheim said.

Ongoing legal issues are holding back Uber X regulation in other states such as Victoria but the service continues to operate illegally in many states.

The WA Government is expected to create a new licencing scheme for ride-sharing services, with reductions to taxi plate costs and removal of some red tape.

– with AAP

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