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Melbourne Uber Drivers Slapped With $1700 Fines; Service Shuts Down 255

Posted by timothy
from the permission-is-mandatory dept.
beaverdownunder (1822050) writes "Victoria Australia's Taxi Directorate has begun a crackdown on Melbourne Uber drivers, fining them $1700 each for operating a taxi service illegally, with total fines apparently equalling over $50000. In response, Uber has shut down its Melbourne service, and has refused to comment on whether its drivers will be compensated, since Uber told them they were providing a legal service. (Fined Uber drivers could take the company to the state's consumer tribunal: stay tuned!) Uber is set to meet with the Directorate next week but it is likely the demands the Directorate will place on Uber drivers, such as mandatory criminal record checks, vehicle inspections and insurance, will make the service in Melbourne unviable. Meanwhile, the New South Wales government is awaiting a report to determine if Uber drivers operating in that state are doing so illegally, warning that drivers could face substantial fines if they are found to have been operating in breach of the law. In South Australia, it doesn't even appear Uber will get off the ground — the state has made it clear that those who operate as an Uber driver will be driving without being covered by the state's mandatory insurance coverage, essentially de-registering their vehicle and making them liable for fines and license suspension."
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Melbourne Uber Drivers Slapped With $1700 Fines; Service Shuts Down

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  • Death sentence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jrumney (197329) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:32AM (#46948433) Homepage

    but it is likely the demands the Directorate will place on Uber drivers, such as mandatory criminal record checks, vehicle inspections and insurance, will make the service in Melbourne unviable.

    Those aren't unreasonable demands of someone wanting to carry passengers for hire. They are checks that pretty much the entire Western world has come up with after numerous problems with unsafe, uninsured and unsavoury taxi drivers. If this is enough to make Uber unviable, then I wouldn't want to be one of their investors.

  • Re:Death sentence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Threni (635302) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:38AM (#46948481)

    Exactly. I'm surprised this is legal anywhere (well, any developed country). And was it not obviously in breach?

    Users of `look-after-my-child-for-a-few-hours.com` better watch their backs!

  • by hessian (467078) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:44AM (#46948539) Homepage Journal

    Step 1:

    Get rid of all regulation.

    Free market, yo.

    Step 2:

    A young girl is murdered and rape in a cab in a horrific fashion.

    The democracy demands solutions!

    Step 3:

    Regulate. When that doesn't work, regulate some more.

    Step 4:

    Prices are high and a de facto exclusive license exists. People notice this is bad and want deregulation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:56AM (#46948643)

    How much warning to stop breaking the law is "enough"? It is, by definition, something you should never have started. Why should they give any warning at all?

  • Re:Death sentence (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nidi62 (1525137) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:04AM (#46948713)

    What's really the difference between this and an online dating service though? You meet people online, some of them might turn out to be jerks or even dangerous. Use your own judgment. There already exist online systems where you can arrange carpools or split a ride with someone. Why does making the cars "for hire, at a profit" change the dynamic so much.

    If you go to an "online dating service" where you meet a person and then pay them for a service rendered, that's pretty much changing the dynamic as much as you can (and would also be highly illegal in most places). Similarly, with Uber you aren't just meeting up and sharing a ride (where the most you would pay is for some gas), you are getting a service from the driver and paying them accordingly. Big difference between the 2.

  • by bradley13 (1118935) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:06AM (#46948729) Homepage

    The libertarian view of this: Uber customers know that they are calling a car driven by some random person. If they want to do that, really, it's their own business. If they want the assurance of a background-checked driver, they are also free to call a taxi company. What's wrong with keeping the government out of it and letting people choose?

  • by wired_parrot (768394) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:12AM (#46948777)

    This is why I am critical of the sharing economy. It is is the pinnacle of outsourcing where the management (uber, airbnb) reaps the cream of the profits at little risk, while their "subcontractors", so to speak, take the burden of all the risks (legally and financially), while also having to shoulder maintenance and operating expenses. The responsible and ethical move for these companies would be to properly inform these subcontractors the insurance requirements, legal risks, local workplace standards required for operation, and try to assist them if possible to meet these requirements.

    Instead, they prefer to claim ignorance and shoulder all responsibility on their user base. When legal problems inevitably arise, they cast their users/subcontractors adrift, letting them fend for themselves. It's utterly disgraceful.

  • Re:Death sentence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spire3661 (1038968) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:35AM (#46949005) Journal
    Criminal record check is completely unnecessary. How are convicted felons ever going to find work if we put background checks on everything?
  • Re:Death sentence (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:37AM (#46949029) Journal

    It's not about safety checks and insurance. It's about established factions limiting competition.

    Otherwise it's as easy as "Sure, I meet safety and insurance requirements! Gimme my license!"

  • Re:Death sentence (Score:4, Insightful)

    by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:54AM (#46949247)

    Exactly. In NYC a taxi licence costs one million dollars. Hardly about background check and vehicle inspection.

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @11:03AM (#46949353)
    He didn't say the alternative was not also a scam, that's a strawman. In a two way fight, both parties can be scumbags.
  • by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @11:18AM (#46949531)

    You can, nobody is stopping you. But if he charges you for it he will be encroaching on the taxi drivers' turf and cutting the city out of its share of the loot and for that he will be fined and/or imprisoned.

    Occupational licencing in almost every case is nothing but a racket to artificially limit the number of practitioners and keep the prices high and to collect a tax by a different name. At least you can make a bogus safety argument when it comes to driving, but what about hairdressers, photographers, interior designers etc etc all of whom require a licence in many jurisdictions and who have to pay the city or the state an annual hefty fee in addition to taking useless courses and passing tests (more fees) in order to be able to work, despite the fact that many other jurisdictions don't have those requirements with provably zero ill effects. 1 in 3 Americans [buzzfeed.com] today are not allowed to work in their profession without a government license.

  • Re:Death sentence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Electricity Likes Me (1098643) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @11:48AM (#46949863)

    Yes heaven forbid we take preventative action before someone gets hurt.

  • Re:Death sentence (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 08, 2014 @12:02PM (#46950019)

    Users of `look-after-my-child-for-a-few-hours.com` better watch their backs!

    Holy false equivalence, Batman!

  • Re: Death sentence (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SvnLyrBrto (62138) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @01:29PM (#46951045)

    Iâ(TM)ve lived in San Francisco since around a decade before Uber was even founded. And taxis were just as much crap then as they are now. The only difference is that Uber and Lyft are offering competitive options that provide a service that doesnâ(TM)t suck.

    Thatâ(TM)s the particularly appalling thing about the taxisâ(TM) crusade against Uber and the like. They made their own bed by: pretty much never coming when and where you summon them; screaming bloody murder (and sometimes refusing entirely) if you ever want to goto, or be picked up in, the avenues; running various BS âoethe credit card reader is brokenâ scams; and often having their vehicles, or themselves, stink of smoke, vomit, or pee (There was even a bedbug infestation not long ago!). Now they need to just STFU and lie in that bed. If theyâ(TM)d offered a good service in the first place, Uber would never have had a niche to enter into the market.

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