ACT News

Uber ride-sharing would be illegal in ACT: government

Uber's internet-based ride-sharing system would benefit drivers and riders in ACT, but it is illegal in the territory, writes Matthew Raggatt.

It's the quick and easy way to get a lift, save on taxi fees and, as a driver, make a few extra dollars.

There's just one glaring problem with the new UberX ride-sharing system - it's illegal. 

A user scans for an available vehicle using an Uber app.
A user scans for an available vehicle using an Uber app. 

Uber's Sydney general manager David Rohrsheim said the ride-sharing application had operated in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne since April, and Canberra was another city where the company was interested in expanding to, despite having no specific time frame.

But the goal appears futile, as the ACT government made clear this week the low-cost smartphone app transport service was not welcome.  

"In order for Uber to operate as a booking service to facilitate ride-sharing it would need to be accredited," a spokesman for Attorney-General Simon Corbell said. 

"Private vehicles and drivers using Uber's ride-sharing' app would be operating in breach of the legislative requirements in the ACT."


The Uber brand has been in Australia for two years, as the UberBlack service operates to allow licensed hire-car drivers to provide a premium taxi service with top-end vehicles.  

Mr Rohrsheim said there had been no fines in Australia for this original service, but drivers had been fined in each of the eastern mainland states for UberX. In the last fortnight one UberX driver was placed under citizen's arrest but no charges were laid. 

He said the service  provided everyone with a win - less pollution, less customer costs and an alternative source of income - and would make sense in Canberra.

"There's a lot of visitors from out of town, and they can get out the app and find a service quickly.

"Another feature that might be relevant for Canberra is UberPool, [where] if we found two riders along the same route, we'll actually match them up in  the same car – which means less fare, and less cars on the road."

Mr Rohrsheim said Uber passengers and drivers had more details about each other than a taxi driver and their passenger, and registered credit card details meant a passenger needed neither cash nor card for a ride. 

The Attorney-General's spokesman confirmed that accredited hire-car operators - such as those who drive under UberBlack -- could use Uber's smartphone app to streamline bookings, but the wider implications of new technologies for the taxi industry were being considered.