Taxi drivers to be fined $1,000 for refusing to turn on meters or declining fares in NSW
The New South Wales government is increasing on-the-spot fines from $300 to $1,000 for rogue taxi drivers who are caught refusing to turn on their meters, refusing fairs or negotiating prices with riders amid rising reports of dodgy operators across the state.
The transport minister, Jo Haylen, said drivers had been warned that enforcement officers would be out in force, especially during events like Vivid, and would not hesitate to issue them with a hefty fine.
“There are rogue taxi drivers out there who are refusing to turn on the meter, who are refusing fares and negotiating fixed prices. That’s illegal,” she said.
“Those drivers should know that the next passenger that climbs into their cab might be an undercover compliance officer from the point to point commission.”
She said the government needed to create a suite of measures to “get rid of these rotten eggs from the industry”, including by working with taxi operators.
The minister encouraged passengers who experience poor behaviour to report it to the state’s 24-hour taxi hotline to give the government a better idea of what is happening on the ground.
The complaints are then passed on to the operators and can be investigated by the commission.
Haylen said the government had inherited the situation from the Perrottet administration that was voted out in March and insisted her government intended to act, alongside the state’s point to point transport commissioner, Anthony Wing.
The state opposition wants the government to go further, calling for even higher fines of $1,200 per offence. The Coalition also wanted to see drivers caught three times suspended.
The opposition transport spokesperson, Natalie Ward, accused the government of being “asleep at the wheel” at holding rogue operators to account.
“Taxi services are relied on by Sydneysiders to get home safely at a fair price, those operators that don’t follow the rules need to be held to account,” she said.
In May, Wing told the Guardian a minority of taxi drivers were continuing to breach the law despite a crackdown his team was undertaking.
Compliance officers have issued about 170 fines to cabbies since the former administration passed laws to give the point to point transport commission stronger powers in November, according to the minister.