Today, the commercial passenger vehicle (CPV) sector is still not a level playing field. There is a need for serious reform to ensure the continued provision of essential services and the financial viability of the commercial vehicle industry.
We must repair the past to create a sustainable pathway forward for the future.
Safety should never be compromised. This is especially important now that the Multi-Purpose Taxi Program (MPTP) has been extended to Rideshare. We are referring to the transport of our most vulnerable citizens particularly those who may be non-verbal.
Ride share companies wanting to enter the MPTP market should be required to meet the same safety and operational requirements as taxis.
Any new entrants into the MPTP scheme should at the very minimum have fixed tamper proof cameras, vehicle identification and a permanent tracking device.
These measures reduce the likelihood of predatory behavior and help to ensure successful prosecution against any wrongdoing by providing irrefutable evidence.
Currently, CPV driver and vehicle licences are granted in perpetuity with no need for annual renewal. Driver accreditation and vehicle licencing continues indefinitely until cancelled by the regulator or surrendered by the accreditation holder.
For this reason, it is difficult to determine which vehicles and drivers are active within the industry and skews the statistics on the number of CPVs and drivers. Now that licencing is perpetual, these figures are forever growing and very misleading. This caused problems during the pandemic as it was difficult to provide targeted support to active participants versus those who may have once registered with the CPVV but are no longer active.
Many policy decisions and considerations regarding setting of the maximum regulated fare are based on supply and demand data. A perpetual driver and vehicle registration system simply makes it impossible to estimate the number of active industry participants. Any decision made based on the highly inflated numbers of licences as recorded by the industry regulator would be deeply flawed.
The public register for CPV drivers and vehicles should reflect current activity and be based on pro-active inclusion through annual renewal as occurs with other licencing systems rather than pro-active exclusion requiring a driver or vehicle owner to surrender their licence.
Surge Pricing in the Multi-Purpose Taxi Program
Surge pricing will leave many disadvantaged people paying more. The lack of pricing control will mean that vulnerable people will be out of pocket and potentially see part of their MPTP allocation absorbed by predatory surge pricing.
Consideration must be given to mandating maximum fare rates across all MPTP work as applied to the taxi industry now.
Surge pricing also exposes the scheme’s taxpayer funding to unnecessary expense.
There are concerns over how a passenger who may not have the capacity to navigate these decisions will react when confronted with fake and misleading price comparisons.
Vulnerable citizens must be protected from such blatant predatory pricing.
Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles
Commercial Passenger Vehicle Booking Service Providers wanting to provide a service in the disability sector through inclusion in the MPTP scheme must not be allowed to cherry pick work at the expense of those who are heavily invested through the operation of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs).
It costs $90,000 to put a wheelchair capable taxi on the road and thousands every year to keep it running – it is a specialist area requiring detailed driver training and ongoing compliance costs. In many cases, WAV vehicle costs are cross-subsidised by regular sedan work within the fleet.
The consequence of diluting MPTP work across providers who do not offer WAV services will see these services decline as the investment will no longer be viable. This will impact on those severely disabled passengers who use WAVs as their sole mode of transport.
That is why any BSP working in the MPTP should have a mandatory 10% of their fleet be wheelchair access vehicles.