As of May 2016, the Victorian county court have effectively legalised Uber services in Victoria. While the Victorian government has yet to regulate Uber’s ride sharing services, this definitely changes things for all Victorian Uber drivers.
In light of the growing phenomenon and popularity of online mobile phone application linking passengers to private vehicle drivers, we examine what Victorian legislation currently states regarding the legitimacy of rider/driver connection services like UberX.
What is UberX
Uber drivers are divided into two categories:
UberX – Where the driver needs to be at least 21 years old, with an Australian driver’s license and comprehensive insurance.
UberBlack – Where the driver is liken to a professional chauffeur with a commercial license and commercial auto insurance.
- Anyone who drives a vehicle carrying passengers for hire or reward (Commercial Vehicle) which has not been specially licensed is committing an offence under s158(1) of the Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) Act 1983. In Victoria, the governing body responsible for issuing the commercial Vehicle licences is the Taxi Services Commission (TSC).Maximum penalty is around $7500
- It is also an offence under section 165(1) of the Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) Act 1983 to drive a Commercial Vehicle without being the holder of approved driver accreditation. In Victoria, the relevant driver accreditation is again only able to be obtained from TSC. Maximum penalty is around $9000
- The first offence relates to the vehicle carrying the passengers, the second offence relates to driver. In other words, in Victoria, to be able to carry passenger for hire or reward, the driver:
- Firstly, needs to be accredited by TSC.
- Secondly, can only drive a vehicle which has been licence by TSC to be a Commercial Vehicle.
Understanding the Law
Vehicle Licensing – Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous)
The vehicle licensing requirement ensures that the Commercial Vehicle being driven is roadworthy and safe to drive. UberBlack cars are all required to have the license, whereas UberX does not require their drivers to provide any paperwork in relation to the roadworthiness of their vehicle.
Accreditation – Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) –
To be a UberBlack driver a person would need accreditation by Taxi Services Commission which entails completing a range of requirements. This is designed to ensure the eligibility and safety of the driver. These requirements include providing a current:
- National Police Check (to check for criminal background),
- Traffic record check from VicRoads (to check for driving history)
- Medical assessment,
- Vision acuteness test
- Driver knowledge test.
This ensures that they are accredited and licensed to be on the road as an UberBlack driver.
In comparison, to become an UberX driver, the only requirement is for the driver to be:
- at least 21 year old
- submit a National Police check
- Provide evidence of a current Victoria Driver’s Licence.
Though medical records will eventually be required, each new driver has up to 3 months to provide that information.
Finally, it is interesting to note that Uber itself is not a Taxi services provider. While it can be considered that Uber is the world’s largest taxi company they do not actually own taxis but rather they are a service facilitator linking the customer to each individual UberX driver. It is the drivers themselves who are the service provider to the general public. While there are regulations for the Taxi industry, laws specific to companies such as Uber has yet to be formed, which is something to keep in mind for next time you use UberX’s services.