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Industry outcry over taxi apps

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The taxi council have warned that passengers face ‘clear risks’ when they use ridesharing apps such as Uber.

According Fairfax media, the NSW Roads and Maritime Services has requested a meeting with Uber to discuss how the NSW Passenger Transport Act applies to the new service, and how Uber will respond to its obligations under the Act.

The RMS said it was “looking forward to Uber’s response”.

The US$250million ($270million) Google-backed Uber initiative was first introduced in February 2014 to users to ride in taxis and private hire cars in Sydney and Melbourne.

However, it has started to branch out into the “ridesharing” market, allowing anyone to ferry users around in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne provided they are at least 24 years old, have insurance, a license, no criminal record, and a four-door car that is no older than a 2005 model, according to reports in Fairfax media.

NSW Taxi Council chief executive Roy Wakelin-King says “this has to be dealt with before it gets out of hand”.

“We have an organisation that is asking people to take on faith a [taxi or hire car] booking system that has no regulatory checks or balances.”

There were no vehicle or driver background checks by the NSW government, he said.

“[It] represents a clear risk to the public.”

Mr Wakelin-King said the Taxi Council had asked the NSW government to investigate.

“We will also be warning passengers about the risks of using this service,” he said.

The service is currently only available to select users but is due to be launched publicly within weeks. Called “low cost” in Australia and “UberX” overseas, the company takes a 20 per cent cut from each fare.