Driving Uber in Western Australian legislation considers ridesharing to be the same as a taxi or limousine service, meaning that those who want to drive for Uber will be required to go through the some process just like those who wish to operate as a taxi cab service.
According to government guidelines:
“The Department of Transport regulates on-demand services including taxis, small charter vehicles and other omnibuses. If a driver provides transport to other people for reward, this is regulated by legislation administered by the Department of Transport. This includes services which are commonly known as ‘ridesharing’.”
Rideshare Registration refers to the application for specific licenses required to operate as a tax or driving Uber in Western Australia. Any driver who carries passengers for hire or reward must have an ‘F’ or ‘T’ extension on their driver’s license.
After a July 2016 reform of transport industry legislation, anyone who wishes to work as an Uber driver will be required pay a fee of $1,102.30 to become an Omnibus driver – which means an operator of a vehicle with fewer than 8 seats.
Omnibus license holders will also be required to pay an annual fee of $272.
Working as an Uber driver without holding an omnibus license in Western Australia means not complying with the Taxi Act 1994 or Transport Co-ordination Act 1966. This means that drivers will be breaking the law and will be subject to prosecution.
This has happened before.
In May 2015, Western Australia’s Department of Transport took action against 19 Uber drivers for failing to comply with the Taxi Act 1994. The Department of Transport said at the time:
“These prosecutions are a result of previously issued ‘notice to produce orders’. As these matters are now before the courts, DoT is not able to provide further comment.”
Despite not providing comment, the charges were made public and Uber drivers were made aware of the consequences of not complying with Western Australia law. A driver from Perth, called Sukhwinder Singh, appeared in court in mid-2015 on a charge of ‘operating a taxi without taxi license plates’ and ‘operating a vehicle as a taxi without appropriate surveillance’.
His case was adjourned until later that year, where he plead not guilty to the charges. By this time, 29 people had been charged with illegally operating taxis as a result of working for Uber.
A year later, in July 2016, 37 Uber drivers had been charged with the same crime, with one Uber driver being ordered to pay $14,000 in court costs, and an additional $400 in fines. On top of that, the driver was given a suspended conviction for the offence.
So for those who want to operate as Uber drivers in Western Australia, it’s important to follow the guidelines the government produces, or you could be paying hefty fines and receiving suspended sentences.