The Victorian Government has identified commercial passenger vehicles as high-risk environments for the spread of COVID-19. The government's free QR Code service has a version specific for commercial passenger vehicles, and can be downloaded from – https://busreg.covid19.dhhs.vic. gov.au/vehicles/s/login/SelfRegister or scan the QR code shown to the left.
Owners of commercial passenger vehicles (CPVs) must now provide a digital record-keeping system, such as a QR code, which records: • passenger’s first name • phone number • date and time the passenger used the service • registration number of the vehicle. In addition, owners are required by Department of Health to keep records of payroll and trip data.
Get To Know: Greg Killeen, Senior Policy & Advocacy Officer, Policy & Advocacy, Spinal Cords Injuries Australia
Greg has been the NSW Taxi Council Wheelchair Accessible Taxi (WAT) Subcommittee Consumer Representative for about 4 years. Greg also joined the recently formed NSW Taxi Council’s Disability Reference Group representing Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA).
Greg’s role aims to keep the NSW Taxi Service the best it can be to meet the needs of customers with a disability as well as those of the taxi drivers.
Greg acquired a spinal cord injury resulting in quadriplegia and needs to use a power wheelchair. He also has a personal and professional interest to ensure all transport services are accessible, especially the Wheelchair Accessible Taxi (WAT) Service which Greg has been reliant on since they started 40 years ago – back in 1981.
COVID-19 has impacted all spheres of society, severely affecting all industries globally and the transportation industry is no exception. Strict lockdowns, restricted travel has led the taxi, hire car and rideshare industry to suffer significant loss in business. With the increased concern around health and safety, drivers across the rideshare, healthcare and taxi industry were hesitant to drive patients and passengers, resulting in reduced capacity and impacting the services. Similarly, passengers also needed to feel safe while travelling in Uber, Ola or any other cab services.
Last month in Italy, Uber Eats and similar food delivery platforms were informed that their couriers were by law employees and not independent workers. They were subsequently fined a 733 million euros for violation of labour safety guidelines. In the past, Uber has endeavoured to strategically eschew the application of existing employment law by relegating their drivers as “gig workers”. They claimed that their drivers were self-employed, private contractors – not workers.
People with disabilities will soon be able to book a Wheelchair Accessible Taxi (WAT) in the Sydney Metropolitan Area in NSW using the Centralised Booking Service of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) – a company that supports people living with disabilities. The centralised booking service will commence from 1 March 2021.
Transport for NSW, after a thorough evaluation awarded the central booking service contract to SCIA, as it was seen as the most innovative and best value for money booking service provider for WATs in metropolitan Sydney.
With a cash injection of $3m from private investors led by Managing Director Greg Webb, Black & White Cabs has announced a campaign to recruit more drivers as it prepares to service new Government contracts and launch a new food delivery service.
The growth plan comes after a group of private investors successfully purchased Black & White Cabs last month from the troubled P2P Transport through a Deed of Company Arrangement. Black & White Cabs Managing Director Greg Webb, who leads the group of private investors, said they planned to expand their network of 3,000-plus drivers across all of its locations in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Western Australia.
Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria (CPVV) has announced the changes to the state’s Multi Purpose Taxi Program (MPTP) to allow Uber’s casual rideshare drivers to transport aged, elderly and incapacitated people.
The $60 million MPTP provides a subsidy for vulnerable and disabled people who are unable to use public transport, paying half the cost of a taxi trip up to the value of $60.
Until recently, the scheme relied on regulated, accredited taxis, including specialist vehicles for wheelchair and incapacitated passengers.
But under the government’s ‘partnership’ with Uber, the strict specifications and controls have been abandoned, effectively opening the way for any Uber driver to operate under the scheme.
I have been reporting on this industry for over 30 years and it never ceases to amaze me how every State (and Territory) in Australia does things slightly, and sometimes majorly, different from the others.
Just this year alone, the Victorian government has seen fit to grant Uber the right to transport our most vulnerable citizens – those who are MPTP (TSS) cardholders. Victoria is the only Australian State to do this. Moreover, it is the only place in the world where this has been done!
In New South Wales, the NSW Taxi Council has started up a Disability Reference Group where industry stakeholders will come together, discuss and network with the NSW taxi industry and disability sector. This will help foster a more collaborative and consultative relationship with all stakeholders.
The Victoria Regulator (CPVV) recognises that there is fraud being committed within the Multi-Purpose Taxi Program (same as TSS in other states) and says that any driver who abuses the system could expect significant consequences.
Whilst CPV Driver MPTP fraud will apparently be prevented by Uber's software – there is nothing to stop friends and family of the MPTP cardholder (the citizen who qualifies for MPTP 50% subsidised trips) from using the MPTP cardholder's Uber account. And the taxpayers will be paying for this!