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Taxis Are Looking Very Uber-Like These Days

Under proposed new laws, Victorian cab drivers must provide passengers with fare estimates.
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The Victorian government will introduce new legislation into parliament today allowing taxi drivers to set their own prices, and requiring them to provide passengers with a fare estimate prior to booking.

Sound familiar? Yep, your local yellow cab is going to feel a whole lot more like an Uber.

The changes are explicitly designed to make taxis more competitive with ride-sharing services, with Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan saying that the reforms will create "better services, cheaper fares and more choice" for Victorian passengers.

"For the first time, we're providing a level playing field by allowing the taxi industry to compete with new providers and giving passengers more choice," she said in a media release.

If it passes, the legislation will allow taxi drivers to charge whatever the hell they want—but that will hopefully work to decrease fares, not increase them. The fare estimate requirement will theoretically force drivers to set a competitive price. They'll be required to do this whether passengers book via app or in person.

Reforms over the past year have significantly deregulated the Victorian taxi industry, specifically via the removal of expensive licensing fees (formerly costing up to $23, 000 per year) with the aim of increasing competition and decreasing fares. The State Government has also provided the taxi industry with financial assistance while imposing stricter regulations on apps like Uber, including that annoying $1 levy on every trip. Alongside the new fare estimate requirement, today's proposed new taxi reforms will also push for more transparent fares and increased safety regulations. Like Uber has! Drivers will be penalised if they don't provide passengers with fare estimates, and vehicles that aren't booked by app will be forced to implement additional safety measures such as in-car surveillance cameras. If they pass, expect to ride in some very Uber-ish taxis by the end of 2018. No word on whether or not there'll be free bottled water.

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