The Queensland government says drivers offering illegal passenger transport face hefty fines as ride-sharing app Uber expands onto the Gold Coast.
Ride-sharing app Uber contends it’s delivering what the market wants but the Queensland government says drivers operating for the company could face hefty fines.
The popular app, which connects passengers with private drivers for paid transport, is expanding its operations in Queensland with services now being offered between Southport and Burleigh on the Gold Coast.
That’s despite the state government issuing a cease and desist notice to the company in May when it commenced operations in Brisbane.
Queensland transport minister Scott Emerson said he still had concerns about Uber’s business model, with drivers found to be illegally providing transport services facing a fine of up to $17,600.
“While we welcome innovation in transport technologies, the safety of passengers using regulated services, including taxi and other passenger transport, is our number one priority,” Mr Emerson told AAP in a statement.
“Passenger transport service operators must comply with legislation to operate legally in Queensland.
“A cease and desist notice was sent to Uber on 21 May 2014 and is still current.
“We have commenced compliance activities to identify any breaches of the legislation.”
Uber says anyone wishing to drive for the company must attain a Queensland government issued driver authority card, every vehicle is inspected by a third-party company and vehicles must not be older than 2005 models.
It also says its service provides instant feedback on both passengers and drivers and had an insurance policy covering drivers while they were delivering a service for the company.
Uber’s Queensland general manager Michael Abbott said the company operated in 200 locations across the globe and had proven immensely popular.
“What we’re doing is new. It’s innovative. We are shaking up the status quo,” Mr Abbott told AAP.
“For that reason we are working with the government in Queensland and governments around Australia on the future of transportation. That does entail taking them through the benefits for riders, drivers and communities.”
Gold Coast Cabs chief executive Gordana Blazevic said passengers used a service such as Uber’s at their own risk.
“Gold Coast Cabs has been built over decades by hard-working small business people who live and work in our local community,” Ms Blazevic said in a statement.
“We would advise people to think hard and long before they drive for illegal rideshare schemes as regulators have indicated that they will be enforcing the existing regulations and fining those who are operating outside the law.”