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!
Early this week Rod Barton MP was successful in raising a motion requesting that the CPVV hand over documents showing the rationale, evidence and results from Uber’s Multi-Purpose Taxi Program (MPTP) trial.
The MPTP supports individuals with severe and permanent disabilities by offering subsided taxi fares to eligible members. The welfare and security of our most vulnerable citizens is at risk if Uber has access to this work under the MPTP scheme.