An investigation has been launched after allegations taxi drivers were colluding with luxury Sydney hotels to overcharge guests for rides.
Reports first published in The Daily Telegraph revealed hotel reception staff were directing guests to the dodgy taxi drivers in exchange for “kickbacks” between $10 to $30.
The scheme was exposed by a fed-up Sydney cabbie, who made the report to the NSW Point to Point Transport Commissioner.
He said hotel workers at several five-star hotels would either call certain drivers with the job or share the ride request in a Telegram group – an encrypted instant messaging app.
In one message, a fare of $90 was offered for an 8km trip from the Sydney CBD to the airport. Depending on traffic, the fare should be between $45 to $55.
NSW Point to Point Commissioner Anthony Wing told 2GB that his department had received the complaint and was talking to people in the industry.
“I take all complaints about possible breaches of the point-to-point transport law very seriously,” he said.
“My staff are investigating the matter. The investigation is open at the moment but we are talking to people in the industry to get extra information and get to the bottom of it.”
Since May last year, taxi drivers who refuse a ride, or make demands to be paid in cash, are liable for a $1000 fine in a major crackdown undertaken by the state government.
Under the law, taxi drivers must turn on the meter once a passenger enters the vehicle, and they cannot refuse a rider on the basis of their destination.
Drivers must also have the fare calculation device on display to customers at all times and cannot solicit a fare.
“We don’t want to see people adding non-agreed mark-ups behind the scenes and then charging people at the other end for that,” Mr Wing said.
While he said a “minority of drivers” went against the rules, he admitted it “tars the brand for everyone”.
Mr Wing appealed to the public to report dodgy drivers to the 1800 500 410 point-to-point hotline, along with the provider, the licence plate and details of the incident.
“We’ll make sure that the relevant taxi company investigates it and gets to the bottom of it and contacts the passenger back,” Mr Wing added.