Just like Ross and Rachel and all the other sitcom couples we've been way too invested in, the on-again off-again relationship between Uber and technical legality is the love affair of our time. And in the newest chapter of the saga, Uber is very much on again in Victoria after the state government this morning gave the beloved ridesharing service the green light to operate. Well, operate legally, that is.
The Andrews government today — Tuesday, August 23 — announced plans to introduce new legislation into parliament that will regulate and reform the commercial passenger industry. As you can see from his tweet below, it's huge. Huge, we tell ya.
Of course, Uber has been operating in Melbourne and Victoria for sometime now and has been somewhat nonplussed by the fact that what they've been doing has been technically illegal. But these new reforms (assuming they are passed through parliament) will make it legal for Uber and other ridesharing services to pick up passengers alongside taxis.
The taxi companies — playing the role of the jealous love rival in this narrative, and understandably so — will be compensated for the changes. A total of $378 million will be made available, including a levy equivalent to $2 per trip, to make it fair for existing licence holders and help them transition to the new legislative framework. This might seem excessive, but the current cost to register as a cab is bonkers — in Victoria, metropolitan taxi rego currently sits at $22,703 per year. The big news here though is that the reforms could mean taxi fares will be deregulated — and while that's great when Uber is at its standard price, it could prove nasty when there's a surge and taxis can charge whatever they want.
Victoria is the third Australian state to legalise Uber, following the ACT and NSW, who both legalised it last year. So what's going to happen to the landscape of private transport love now that Uber is a genuine competitor in Victoria? What dramatic twists and turns can we expect next season? Stay tuned to find out.