News & Analysis

NSW public servants given option to use rideshare services for work travel

- March 4, 2016 2 MIN READ

Public servants working for the NSW Department of Finance, Services, and Innovation (DFSI) will be the first to be able to use ridesharing services when travelling for work, as the Government looks to reduce its overall travel expenditure.

The measure, announced by Minister for Finance, Services and Property, Dominic Perrottet today, comes after the state Government legalised rideshare services last December and introduced a policy framework to regulate the wider sharing economy in January.

“Governments shouldn’t be shackled to legacy systems and processes; we should move with the times and take advantage of what the collaborative economy has to offer,” he said.

“Sometimes public servants need to get around quickly and conveniently in the course of their work, but last financial year the NSW Government spent more than $8 million on taxis alone. If adding ridesharing to the transport mix for public servants means we can save taxpayer dollars, we shouldn’t waste any time exploring that option.”

The news shows just how far the NSW Government has come over the last few months. There was much to-ing and fro-ing over the question of whether or not to regulate Uber last year, with Premier Mike Baird denying reports in November that changes to legislation were imminent.

Baird told 2GB at the time that it would be “hasty” to say Uber would be legalised by the end of the year, as the Government was still considering the findings of an independent report, while the NSW Roads and Maritime Services had also suspended the vehicle registrations of 40 UberX drivers in September.

The Government then announced changes to regulations in December, with the release of a position paper on regulations for the sharing economy following in January.

Releasing the paper, Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Victor Dominello said the Government had to lead the way, with adopting an agile approach to Government procurement and operation a focus.

Of course, agile public servants working for the DFSI will have the option to choose between Uber and goCar, the new rideshare offering from taxi booking startup goCatch, launched last month.

The service is virtually identical to UberX, with the key difference being that goCar will use a peak and off-peak pricing structure rather than surge pricing. goCar fares are 20 to 30 percent cheaper than a taxi off-peak, and 10 to 15 percent cheaper than a taxi during peak hours.

The Government will assess whether to extend the rideshare option to other departments and agencies over the next few months.

Image: Dominic Perrottet. Source: Provided.