You may be asking yourself why a Cap on Drivers is BAD for Rental Car companies, Taxi Plate owner/investors, Limo Companies, and big booking entity authorised firms like Uber, Ola, etc… and why it is good for rideshare drivers? Given the fact that the innovation of rideshare has created more access into a taxi market that was neither cheap for riders or a form of well-paying work for drivers it might not seem like the best thing to call for. We agree it is complicated but keep reading if you want to know why we think it is a critical and necessary change.

The centralised business like Uber, Ola, Didi, Rental Car companies, Taxi & Limo companies love having unlimited drivers to work for their platforms in the case of Uber or to keep authorised plated car’s moving 24/7 in the case of the taxi industry. They sign up hundreds of new drivers every week making their services more responsive to customer demand for a short waiting time. The majority of these drivers don’t last 3 months. Some don’t last 3 weeks. Why? Because drivers’ earnings are too low. They are below a sustainable level.

Individuals rideshare drivers bare the majority of the cost. 

Drivers and especially the most recent to start driving, find out the pay is rubbish which makes the time, effort & money they paid to enter the industry is wasted.  Platforms get super cheap labour, with virtually no upfront cost or risk. Leasing & Rental companies sell their wares and get paid. Almost zelo risk for them too.

Currently, drivers are an unlimited resource. As long as there are unemployed people, international students and people seeking work flexibility, people uninformed about the poor earnings and high costs as a rideshare driver will continue to sign up to work for platforms like Uber. Anything that is unlimited naturally has very little value. And the value can continue to be diluted over time, especially when we go through economic ups and downs that lead more people in search for some extra work.

Over the last few years, rideshare drivers across Brisbane have observed a continual decline in earnings and available work. Drivers formally able to earn enough to get by on a very tight budget are now having to again look for other work and go on unemployment benefits. There is just not enough rideshare work available which is why we need to cap driver numbers to ensure that there is at least enough work available for committed drivers to survive.

Taxi Plates are capped. Because those in the industry know, that if you let an unlimited number of people access a market of limited fares, things become unsustainable very quickly. By capping taxi plates, the vehicles on the road became very expensive. Owners became Investors rather than Drivers, and used their growing power to further protect their own market. Capping vehicle numbers is clearly a bad idea. While the platforms don’t own vehicles, a capped vehicle permits would quickly be snapped up by rental companies, and limited access would drive prices and profits up.

And so we need to cap Drive Authority BHTX permits. This change would:

A cap on drivers will make drivers a valuable commodity. It is the first step to ending the exploitation by companies who have zero legal responsibility for looking after the labour their business operations hold captive and depend upon and consequently zero motivation to increase driver incomes.

We want to be clear that we are not in favour of rideshare turning into what the Taxi industry was. An industry that paid drivers poorly and sees cuts being made from their hard work by the plate owner, the cab company and Cab Charge for doing very little in contributing to the value of the transport service provided to customers. Because the plate owner, cab company and CabCharge all made a slice this made Taxi’s too expensive which created an opportunity for the technological innovation of rideshare platforms. This unfair situation for Taxi drivers was created decades ago because of the poor government decision to allow taxi plates to turn into speculative investments, a choice that ultimately the government should pay for and is through compensating Taxi plate owners. We believe Taxi drivers and plate owners who lost savings they were financially dependent upon to retire securely should be compensated by the rideshare companies that chose to break the law by entering the market. At the same time, we appreciate the innovation that rideshare platforms have brought. It could and should have been brought in more slowly in a way that gave drivers ownership over the platforms and in a way that allowed Taxi plate owners and the government to come to an agreement that would change and equitably transition the industry for the workers benefit. These are the mistakes of the past and the lessons we have learned from them is that booked transport should not be an investor industry and workers should share the ownership over their industry and that the industry should be protected to provide them secure and fairly paid work.

The Rideshare Drivers in Cooperation Queensland has the long term goal of setting up a driver owned rideshare platform that would be co-operatively owned by the drivers so that we can bring the dream of flexible, secure and fairly paid work to reality. We will set up a co-operative that allows drivers to:

Just as we have innovated and created changes to transport with technology we can equally innovate with the forms of organisations we use to bring create the working lives we want. We can have a driver owned platform that balances flexibility with fair pay, we just have to come together, fight to change the laws and cooperate to create a business that we would share the responsibility and benefit.

To achieve this goal, the first step is to get a cap on drivers. Current drivers cannot earn enough money to survive as long as there is an oversupply of drivers. Some may argue that the point of ridesharing is that it is not a full-time job but this ignores the fact that there will always be a need for people to provide transport services when it is inconvenient and not part of someone’s existing route. We believe in the potential of rideshare driving while commuting to and from work to reduce congestion and emissions but the only way this can be done without risking driver professionals from losing the security of their income is that if people seeking to share their ride for a commute are restricted to using rideshare platforms for that limited purpose. A cap on drivers is the first step in getting stability so that drivers can earn a secure income, get organised and transform how booked transport works so policy protects the people driving for a job while also allowing people to share their vehicle to help reduce congestion. 

We are asking for an immediate cap on driver numbers at the level that they are now. We are asking the state government to use the data they have available to them from the rideshare platforms to figure out what number of drivers would balance the need for secure average earnings with the need for responsive driver services available to riders. We would request that the state government then allow the natural attrition of drivers to allow the numbers to settle at this point and to then allow new drivers into the market as the data suggests where and when new drivers are needed but without restrictions on where they can work.  In addition to this, we want the government to consider requirements that drivers hold an Australian license before they get on the waiting list to become a rideshare driver.

If Taxi and Rideshare drivers can unite to create this change it would create an immediate benefit to everyone’s income. It would allow drivers to have some security in their future which would allow them to participate more positively in discussions about how we can build power together and change the booked transport industry so that it meets public goals around safety and transport efficiency while still providing drivers with flexibility and fair pay.