Taxi groups have responded to consumer advocacy group CHOICE study which compared the price, service, speed and safety of Sydney taxis and UberX.
As reported in B&T this morning, the report claimed Sydney taxis are 40 per cent more expensive than UberX on average and an UberX ride was cheaper than a taxi around nine times out of 10.
B&T has received two comments from companies within the taxi industry responding to CHOICE’s claims:
Combined Communications Network
CHOICE’s findings in comparing point-to-point passenger services represents a simple analysis of a more complex issue, according to Combined Communications Network (CCN), the largest taxi booking and dispatch service provider in Australia.
CHOICE’s decision to focus on price and reliability does not properly inform media or consumers on ride-sharing services that are fraught with risk, particularly in terms of passenger safety, according to Stuart Overell, chief operating officer at Combined Communications Network.
“I have yet to see CHOICE’s full report, which has not been released publicly at this stage, but I am concerned it was completed and released without adequate industry consultation and appears to be price and service lead, without an in-depth consideration of safety features, GPS tracking, or taxi driver training.
“Many of the extensive safety features of a taxi are not obvious to a passenger. This includes tamper-proof, always-on GPS to constantly track the whereabouts of taxis, as well as permanently powered, fire resistant security cameras to capture activity inside and outside a taxi.
“On the other hand, ride-sharing services use the GPS tracking from phones, which is a vulnerable technology given a phone can be discarded or simply switched off – drivers, and their passengers, can simply fall off the radar at a touch of a button. Safety features are there for the protection of customers and drivers. They are mandatory for a reason.”
However, the consumer watchdog’s support for regulating ride-sharing services in-line with the taxi industry is something that should be praised.
“I am pleased to see CHOICE’s conclusion that the same regulations should apply to both taxis and ride-sharing,” continued Overell.
“Taxis are complying with excessive regulation, while ride-sharing networks are not. Ride-sharing has proven that it is currently more cost effective to operate illegally than to comply with state regulation.
“Additionally, we are not surprised to see ride-sharing alternatives revealed as the cheaper option. Taxi fares are regulated by the Government and regulation impacts price; whether that’s the cost for taxi owners to get cars legally on the road; the cost of Government mandated training for drivers to become qualified; or the cost of maintaining taxis and their safety features; the end result is a slightly higher fare for passengers. That’s why, as the largest taxi network in Australia, we are talking with state government to address why drivers have to comply excessive regulation, while the competition does not.
“Of course, we’re not trying detract from the issue of service that CHOICE has raised. Service is a critical issue for us and something we know is extremely important for passengers. We are focusing on it as a priority.”
NSW Taxi Council
The NSW Taxi Council welcomes CHOICE’s interest in the taxi industry but notes this survey compares a legal industry – the NSW Taxi Industry – with a service that is currently illegal and unregulated.
Taxi passengers enjoy the protection of a range of safety measures mandated by Government, including:
- Ongoing criminal record checks for drivers
- In-built vehicle GPS tracking systems which, unlike phones, cannot be switched off
- In-built cameras for the safety of passengers, drivers and the general public
- Significant driver training requirements
- Regular safety checks for vehicles
- Proper insurance for both passengers and drivers
CHOICE has recognised the need to level the playing field with regard to regulation. This is consistent with the position that the NSW Taxi Council has pursued with the NSW Government.
Unlike other providers, the NSW Taxi Industry provides transport around the clock to people from all walks of life in metro and rural NSW. We remain committed to improving customer service and providing value for money and we will always place passenger safety first.