Uber launch saw start of Sydney taxi plate price tumble, NSW data shows

A generic taxi sign on the roof of an Adelaide cab

The average price of taxi licences in Australia's most populous city has fallen below half of what it was at the launch of ride-booking app Uber.

NSW Government data shows Sydney licences in February were worth, on average, $200,000, down from $406,000 in October 2012.

Sydney cabbie Wladislav, 63, who has driven taxis for 33 years, said he and other licence owners were angry and blamed the State Government for not stepping in.

"What the Government has done to us is disgraceful — I don't deserve that, and no-one deserves what they've done to us with legalising Uber," he said.

"Now there's no work. Many times at night I'm cruising for three hours in the city and I can't pick up anybody."

After paying $150,000 for his taxi plates when he first began driving, Wladislav said he had planned to use the investment to fund his retirement.

"I was always saying [my taxi plates] would be my retirement," he said.

"At that time, if I'd bought a two-story house, now I'd have $3 million for it, and I would earn money, too, from renting — and this is nothing to compare."

The Baird government legalised Uber in 2015, simultaneously announcing a $250 million compensation package for taxi drivers, but Wladislav said it was not enough.

"They compensated us $20,000, but that is just losing the money on the earnings, not from the plates," he said.

"Three times I went for the knowledge test, they put us in uniform, cameras, everything — everything was controlled by the Government and they should compensate us for it.

"If they want, they can buy back the plates and pay us over $400,000 for it, and we can lease from them or work for them — that's fair enough, but what they did to us is disgraceful."

Taxis will remain profitable: peak body

NSW Taxi Council chief executive Roy Wakelin-King said he shared concerns about the downward trend.

"There's a very significant concern, and rightly so, amongst licence owners that they've seen that valuation drop quite significantly," he said.

Despite the fall in licence prices, he said he was confident the taxi industry could remain profitable.

"What we are looking for, which is most important, is the competitive neutrality which the Government has said it will achieve through its reforms actually does occur because we will be more competitive as a consequence," Mr Wakelin-King said.

"We are hopeful that once that is achieved that we will see improvements in that profitability and earnings per taxi increase, which will be good for the industry overall.

There are no official statistics on taxi drivers who moonlight or have moved over entirely to services like Uber, but Mr Wakelin-King said they are no better off if they do.

"I'm not concerned about the possible movement between platforms by drivers.

"What we are witnessing is a number of drivers that have gone to drive for ride-sharing platforms, and the grass did appear greener than what it actually was on that side of the fence."

PrintEmail