Concerns over taxi app

CHOOSE your smartphone app to book a taxi carefully, a Port Macquarie company warns.

Port Macquarie Taxis general manager Peter Creenaune recommended against using applications that direct calls straight to drivers.

One such app, goCatch, claims regional cab drivers in areas, including our town, have complained of being intimidated by taxi networks when taking on a job booked through the app.

Peak industry association Taxi NSW says it has no evidence of such occurances, but also warned against using apps that book directly to drivers because safeguards were bypassed.

goCatch co-founder, Andrew Campbell, said several drivers had recently reported incidents of bullying from taxi networks after using the goCatch app. 

“We have received calls from drivers in Townsville, the Sunshine Coast, Newcastle, Port Macquarie and Launceston. Many drivers now believe that the taxi booking apps are illegal, which is completely false,” Mr Campbell said.

“Drivers should be able to choose how they connect with passengers – and goCatch is one option which provides instant connectivity.” 

Mr Creenaune said taxis were heavily regulated by public transport laws, which protected both drivers and passengers.

An association spokewoman said while the technology of these apps was sound, bypassing the regulation process side stepped checks for correct fares and made it more difficult to track down lost property.

Recent complaints to the association about such apps, of which there are many around the world, include a man in a ute responding to a smartphone booking, hoping to make some extra money on his way home from work, and a woman who had been picked up from her home and taken to the airport by a driver who was unauthorised. She was unaware until later and had told the driver she was going on holidays when he knew where she lived.

“These apps leave no record of a booking and therefore no way of investigating such complaints,” the spokeswoman said.

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