Some points to ponder on the state of rideshare in Australia currently.
The Ride Share Drivers Association of Australia was formed in March of 2016 and was incorporated in Queensland on April 1st , 2016. Then on April 10, 2018 we became a registered body with ASIC giving us an Australia wide legal presence.
The Association came about because of the main rideshare operator, Uber, deciding in February of 2016 to arbitrarily reduce the rates they paid to drivers from $1.40 per km to $1.00 per km in all markets except the Sydney metro area. At the time the price paid for diesel, in Queensland, was approximately $1.00 per litre, petrol prices were similar. Here we are in 2018 and we are paying around $1.63 per litre for diesel. The rate of payment from the operators has increased all of .15 cents per km in that time but also during that period the Government have introduced fees as outlined in the following paragraph. Our cost for fuel has risen from less than 7 cents per km to 11 cents per km for diesel. Cost for fuel for petrol vehicles has risen in line with diesel and due to getting less fuel economy their cost per km is between 22 and 24 cents per km.
Since the inception of the Ride Share Drivers Association of Australia (RSDAA) we have been actively involved with Government bodies in the formation of policy surrounding the legalization of rideshare in Australia. To this day Members of RSDAA Committee are still working on groups in Queensland, NSW and Victoria to help guide this new industry to position where drivers are earning a fair and sustainable rate of return for their efforts.
Unfortunately, the Governments have seen the rise of rideshare as nothing more than a cash grab with little real understanding of what they are doing. Just as an example here in Queensland there are reportedly 11,000 registered rideshare drivers, but that could be as high as 30,000 plus, from whom the Government collects various fees and charges giving very little in return. Some of the fees collected by TMR( Transport and Main Roads), a Government Department are: Drivers Authority $147.00 per annum, Booked Hire Service Licence $246.53 per annum, extra CTP payment $200.00 plus per annum and the vehicle must be inspected annually at a charge of about $80.00. Before a new driver can operate, he/she needs to undergo a medical and a criminal history check another out of pocket expense.
Back in 2016 the commission paid to driver “partners” by that same operator was 20% of the total fare, now the commission taken is 27.5%. Most operators are charging around the 15% commission but have a far smaller share of the market.
With the current rates being paid to drivers the long term future of drivers is totally unsustainable and currently there is a turnover of around 50% in the first three months of commencing in rideshare. Many drivers are encouraged to start driving with promises of high earning capacity along with the fact that they can rent cars from recommended suppliers who are also taking high rentals from unsuspecting new entrants. The carrot held out to new entrants is a total myth. Committee members of RSDAA are regularly made aware of drivers who are working 14 plus hours per day to try and make ends meet. These hours are against fatigue management laws but neither the operators or the Government Department are interested in doing anything about it, maybe when a life has been lost due to fatigue then they will do something.
Another issue that drivers must contend with is deactivation. A rider can make a totally unfounded and vexatious allegation against a driver and without any type of right of reply the driver can be flicked off the platform. This has caused extreme financial hardship for many drivers as they are left with no income and in a lot of cases a car that they still must pay for. RSDAA have been responsible for having several drivers reinstated but it is a long hard road to pursue.
Queensland is in the process of setting up an Ombudsman to oversee the Personalized Transport Industry but from information received so far this will be a “ toothless tiger” with no authority to have any party be bound by the Ombudsman. Representatives who sat on the PTIRG ( Personalised Transport Industry Reform Group) actively sought an Independent Statutory Authority to look after the industry – this was put in the to hard basket by the bureaucrats.
RSDAA have representatives on several Government bodies in NSW and recently have been invited to be a part of a new body in Victoria. Representation on these groups no doubt sees some positive progress with the ride share industry. RSDAA are also actively involved in discussions with stakeholders in the Personalised Transport Industry trying to see a better outcome for the industry.
The RSDAA, as a legally recognized Association will continue to sit on these various committees, when invited, to see the industry mature into the sustainable industry that we all wish to be a part of. There is room for all sectors of the industry to work side by side.