The Taxi Services Commission (TCS) in Victoria (Australia) has announced changes to taxi-cab vehicle specifications as part of a regulation review. The broader regulation review is still ongoing, but the TSC website states that “it is expected that ’new‘ Regulations with more significant changes will be made within the next 6-12 months.” The changes announced now effectively remove the existing taxi-cab vehicle specifications and introduce a new specification which relates only to wheelchair accessible taxi (WAT) vehicles.
Effective 29 July 2016, the TSC has determined that taxi and hire car age limits will no longer apply. Vehicle age limits no longer apply to all taxis, including WATs, operating in all zones (metropolitan, urban, regional and country) and all hire cars operating in the metropolitan and country zones. The 2.5 year entry age limit has also been removed on all taxis and hire cars.
This decision is based on research undertaken by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) to assess whether existing taxi and hire car age limits are appropriate and the implications between the age limits and vehicle safety. MUARC’s research found that there was no clear correlation between the age of a vehicle and its crash risk. As a result, age limits for all taxi-cabs and hire cars are being removed. The MUARC-information can be found on the TSC website (www.taxi.vic.gov.au). Despite the removal of age limits, taxi and hire car operators are responsible for ensuring that vehicles are maintained in a safe and roadworthy condition at all times. Existing regulations about vehicle inspections remain unchanged. Requirements in respect of livery, security cameras and taximeters still apply.
Effective from 29 July 2016, specifications for taxi-cabs will only apply to WATs – Wheelchair Accessible Taxis. The new WAT vehicle specification is available on the TCS-website. These specifications relate primarily to the wheelchair and occupant restraint systems, and the allocated floor space for wheelchairs as set out in the Federal Government’s Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport (DSAPT). In the case of vehicles being converted to carry wheelchairs, a VASS report is still required to confirm that the vehicle continues to meet the Australian Design Rules and other standards.
The Victorian Taxi Association (VTA) says it supports these efforts to reduce the amount of regulation on taxi-cab operators and give greater scope for those running taxi businesses to make their own decisions about the vehicles they use.