Penalties for touting are back on table following a huge increase in complaints about drivers approaching people at Melbourne Airport, major events and on Melbourne’s city streets.
Industry stakeholders will be consulted on options for managing touting, including reintroducing touting offences after Transport Matters Party leader Rod Barton campaigned the government to fix the problem.
“Touting is a serious safety issue in Melbourne and it needs an urgent solution,” said Mr Barton.
“Our underpaid and stressed taxi, hire car and rideshare drivers are pouncing on work like seagulls chasing cold chips at the beach. Drivers are fighting in the streets over fares, and you can’t walk out of Melbourne airport without being harassed.
“The laws that stopped this dangerous behavior went out with the bathwater when the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Reform legislation was passed in 2017 and they need to be reintroduced quickly before someone has a serious incident,” he said.
Mr Barton questioned the legitimacy of drivers making these direct approaches and said many were driving unmarked cars and many offered cash rides, often with no record of the trip recorded by the passenger or a booking service provider.
“It’s pretty obvious that this is a fairly dangerous situation and we don’t need to wait for something to go seriously wrong to take action.”
And, it’s not just members of the public that are complaining about the approaches, but members of the commercial passenger vehicle industry as well.
“I am being contacted on an almost daily basis by members of the industry complaining about this. Drivers are angry and frustrated, and rightly so. If you’ve been following the rules and been waiting in the taxi holding ranks at Melbourne airport for your turn, it’s pretty disappointing to see rides walking away,” he said.
The regulator will hold a series of round table conversations with industry will commence during July and August to explore options around managing touting, including reintroducing a touting offence. Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria is presently gathering evidence on the extent of the problem and data on whether touters are compliant with vehicle registration and driver accreditation laws.
“Touting is intimidating and dangerous. These touters are ruining Melbourne’s reputation as a safe city and it needs to stop,” said Mr Barton.