Point to point transport, such as taxis and hire cars, provides flexible, convenient options for our customers to get from A to B via the route they choose, at a time that suits them. These services are undergoing a period of transformation in NSW.

In response to emerging technologies and changing customer expectations, the government has legalised ridesharing services and is modernising how the industry is regulated. To do this, a new regulator
has been set up: the NSW Point to Point Transport Commission. 

Transport Mode speaks with Barbara Wise, the newly appointed Point to Point Commissioner, about the benefits of the reforms, how the commission will balance the needs of customers and industry, and what she enjoys most about working in transport.

What is the role of the new regulator?
First and foremost, we keep companies accountable for the safety of their services through ensuring compliance with the government’s safety standards. We also look after the licensing of taxis, authorising taxi companies and booking companies and determining their liability for the passenger service levy. In the beginning, educating the industry about the changes will be a big part of what I do as Commissioner. 

What are the benefits for our customers?
The reforms are a big win for customers. Because we have made it much easier for new point to point transport businesses to start up, and granted them more freedom to use technology, customers can choose from a wider range of innovative service providers. For example, ridesharing businesses have started up in Wollongong and Byron Bay, and customers in those areas can take advantage of the additional features available through an app. There’s also a new service in Sydney targeted at women, with female drivers. Of course, the reforms are also designed to assure customers that drivers and vehicles have met strict safety standards.

What does it mean for the industry?
The industry will need to adjust to the shift away from the prescriptive and detailed rules that prevented innovation. They now have greater freedom to change things up and provide better customer service. The government will continue to set safety standards, but the responsibility of meeting those safety standards rests with the industry. Some things will continue to be mandatory – like security cameras in all taxis that are flagged down in the street because, without a booking, the trip is anonymous. But in general, the companies themselves will have a much bigger role in ensuring the safety of their services. 

How important was collaboration to the process?
It’s taken an enormous effort from an incredible number of people across the Transport cluster to make the reforms a reality. Right from the get go it was all hands on deck. Roads and Maritime in particular has shouldered a big load due to the growth in the industry since December last year and ongoing collaboration has been critical in having things go as smoothly as possible. We had people from Treasury and Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal seconded to the project and the Centre for Road Safety doing great research. We also got input from NSW Industrial Relations, Worksafe NSW, the Bureau of Crime Statistics and excellent advice from the State Insurance Regulatory Authority on compulsory third party insurance. 

The team has been recognised for their efforts with wins at both the 2016 Premier’s Awards and the 2016 TfNSW Recognition Awards.

What do you enjoy most about working at Transport?

I’ve had exposure to so many different aspects of what we do in the Transport cluster over the years – whether that is through delivering better bus services, helping people socially through initiatives like the School Student Transport Scheme, or tackling a broad range of tricky policy issues, big and small. That’s what’s so great about working here – opportunity! I am really looking forward to seeing the point to point reforms bedded down and both the industry and the travelling public taking advantage of the benefits. 

What do you find most rewarding about what you do?

I have always been motivated by doing what I can to have a positive impact on people’s lives.