Uber is continuing to help top up the state’s coffers, with another 171 drivers fined for operating with the service in Brisbane in the past six months.
That netted the state $191,431 in fines, on top of the more than $1.7 million the Department of Transport fined Uber drivers the year before.
But it still pales in comparison to the collective value of taxi licences to the state, which last month was valued at $1,345,658,054. That $1.3 billion figure does not include vehicle or equipment costs and only takes into account the value of taxi licences to the state.
Uber drivers have been fined since a cease and desist order was issued by the Newman Government in May last year.
But the rate of drivers being fined is dramatically declining. In the year following the cease and desist order, the state issued 538 drivers a total of 1536 fines.
In the months since April 2015, the Department has issued just 171 fines, with 126 paying the infringement notice, 44 electing to try their luck in court and one still to be finalised. In the last month, no Uber driver was fined.
Acting director of the Department of Transport and Main Roads for taxis and limousines Noela Cerutti told a parliamentary committee last month that it was becoming increasingly difficult running covert operations to catch Uber drivers out, with the company blocking the phones of known inspectors from booking through its app.
“Covert actions of booking an Uber driver have actually been hampered recently by Uber themselves,” she said in October.
“They now can, with their technology, recognise not only a sim card, but the handset.
“…So that then is able, that phone and that sim card, to actually connect with their app in the future.
“So we’ve gone through hundreds of phones trying to catch the next driver in doing the wrong thing.
“They have also now changed their customer application process.
“So what used to happen in the past, we would buy visa cards, so we would use those visa that aren’t actually allocated as a person and you would go on and book an Uber driver.
“Now they want all your personal details so you can actually become a customer of Uber.
“We’ve checked…the transport Inspectors aren’t able to use a false name, they have to, in the line of their duty, provide accurate information, so they aren’t willing to provide their personal card to actually do the covert investigations any more.
“We have been thwarted in our compliance.”
Infringement notices issued to Uber drivers, which can be up to $1707 for operating a taxi service without authorisation, are yet to be challenged in the Queensland courts.
Ms Cerutti said the department wanted to ensure it correctly built a case before moving forward.
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad ordered a review into Uber and the state’s taxi industry last month. That’s not due to return until August next year.
A bill introduced by the Katter Party, which would see drivers caught driving for Uber three times lose their licence is being reviewed by a Parliamentary Committee, which is due to report back by March next year.