Dodgy cab and rideshare drivers have been warned they will be caught as authorities escalate the fight to prevent overcharging and fare refusals.
The Queensland government says it is sending enforcement officers undercover to nab drivers trying to manipulate higher fares for trips, while in NSW, Transport Minister David Elliott has urged passengers to dob drivers in to a 24-hour state hotline.
It comes as almost 200 fines were issued to Queensland taxi and rideshare drivers during a statewide blitz in November, with authorities saying they will “ramp up” efforts even further over the New Year period.
Almost 1000 intercepts of taxi and rideshare vehicles were carried out in November, with 181 drivers fined up to $575 for misconduct, Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said.
“In recent months, my office saw a big jump in the number of complaints against taxi drivers for fare refusal, and overcharging, so I instructed my department to ramp up enforcement operations through November,” Mr Bailey said.
“To see that around one in five drivers have been doing the wrong thing is completely unacceptable, and so we’ll be ramping up this operation even further over the Christmas and New Year period.”
While fare refusal and overcharging were firmly under the microscope, the department would also crack down on rideshare drivers from companies including Uber touting for fares from roadside or taking trips that were not pre-booked, Mr Bailey said.
“We’ll be conducting covert operations at all times of the day, so when a passenger gets in a taxi at 3am, the driver should expect it to be an enforcement officer, and they’ll be caught out if they do the wrong thing,” he said.
Mr Bailey defended the targeting of the industry, which has struggled this year with high fuel costs and the lingering impact of Covid restrictions.
“I acknowledge the industry has faced increased costs, which is why we gave taxis the ability to increase the maximum fare earlier this year, and they have access to things like taxi ranks and lift payments under the taxi subsidy scheme, which rideshare services don’t.”
Mr Elliott said he was frustrated taxi drivers were flouting the rules after the NSW government had “gone in to bat” for the industry.
“I get examples daily from taxi riders who have been gazumped by taxi drivers and I just think that is extremely ungrateful for an industry that this government has gone in to bat for,” he said on Friday.
“There’s going to be plenty of work and you know Sydneysiders can be pretty generous. You might actually get a tip.”
A fine of $300 applies to NSW taxi drivers for failing to use the meter.