Could New York's Uber crackdown make its way to Australia?

A new regulation in the Big Apple is creating a bumpy road for the world's most popular ride-sharing app.


Toyota and Uber will work together to mass-produce self-driving vehicles. Source: AAP, SBS

It's the latest regulatory pothole creating a bumpy road for ride-sharing sensation Uber. 

The New York City council is enforcing a one-year moratorium on ride-hailing licenses, and there are suggestions Australian cities should follow suit.

Those in support of the proposal said the growth of ride-sharing apps was significantly hurting the city's iconic yellow cab industry as random cars "flooded streets".

"It also is going to send a message around the world that cities can fight back and that we will fight back. And it sends a message about the resolve of New York City - no big corporation will tell us what to do. Not big oil not the big pharmaceutical companies and certainly not Uber," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said, as reported by Reuters.

Uber New York
Once synonymous with New York City, yellow taxis have been supplanted by an army of black cars that pick up riders though the Uber, Lyft and other apps. Source: AAP, SBS

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission reports 80,000 ride-hailing vehicles are operating in the city this year alone, a massive leap from 12,600 in 2015. However, the app-based service argues charging more during peak hour is a far better solution to reducing congestion.

It's the latest kick-in-the-guts for the company, after London tried to ban the service from its city last year causing the Australian taxi industry to call for a review of its own licensing agreements. 

While London's sanction was lifted earlier this year, Australia's taxi body still calls for the number of Uber and ride-share drivers in cities to be capped.  

The Australian Taxi Industry Association has applauded the New York City council's decision, with CEO Blair Davies saying it's simply a matter of “putting residents ahead of the profits of giant companies like Uber”.

“We encourage Australian state governments to have a look at what’s happened in New York and London in terms of congestion and then to look at what’s happening in their own cities,” he said.  

Uber says it has 3.3 million users across Australia and about 72,000 drivers.

In 2016, the New South Wales government introduced a legislation to overhaul outdated transport regulations for taxis, hire cars and ride-share services in an effort to deregulate the industry and ensure a competitive market.

Australia's national taxi body is calling for similar regulations as New York. Source: AAP, SBS

The Australian Taxi Industry Association says the nation can prevent further congestion by reviewing road-sharing policies now before the "problem becomes harder to fix" like in London and New York. 

“You just have to have a look at our CBDs on Friday and Saturday nights – there’s an influx of vehicles circling around, hungry to find passengers and hunting for opportunity,” Mr Davies said.

“It’s not only congesting our roads but creating problems like double parking, stopping in unsafe areas and pulling into taxi ranks."

However, according to the NSW government, the number of vehicles coming in and out of the Sydney CBD during peak times has reduced by 11 per cent since 2015, due to a higher uptake of public transport.

3 min read
Published 10 August 2018 at 4:43pm
By Charlotte Lam