Provincial regulatory entity approves 201 metered taxi operating licence applications

By Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works:

The Provincial Regulatory Entity (PRE) in the Department of Transport and Public Works has today approved 201 metered taxi operating licences as supported by the City of Cape Town. Of those approved applications, 145 have been applications from Uber partners.

The decision to award these operating licences follows a period of careful consideration and continued engagement with the City of Cape Town, the relevant planning authority, as required by the National Land Transport Act (NLTA).

In supporting applications for operating licences the planning authority, in this case the City of Cape Town, must indicate whether there is a need for the service on the route/s or area/s in terms of its integrated transport plan (ITP). The planning authority must then direct the PRE to grant the operating licences and also make the appropriate recommendations with regard to conditions that must be attached to the operating licence. The PRE is obliged to act in accordance with the City of Cape Town’s ITP and must not grant an operating licence contrary to the direction of the planning authority’s ITP.

Summary of operating licence application and adjudication process
1 Application is made for an operating licence and the supporting documents are submitted to the PRE.
2 Application is verified and captured in the Land Transport Permit System.
3 Application is published in the government gazette for a period of 21-days to afford interested and affected parties the opportunity to provide comments in relation to the application.
4 Application is referred to the relevant planning authority for directions in terms of its Integrated Transport Plan and to make recommendations in respect of conditions that must be imposed on the operating licence.
5 Planning authority provides directions in terms of its Integrated Transport Plan (ITP) or based on due inquiries or investigations carried out by it.
6 Objections are received from interested affected parties.  The PRE will determine whether or not objections are substantive. Where substantial objections are received a hearing is scheduled or additional information is requested (or both).
7 A committee hearing is scheduled to finalise deliberations.  The PRE must duly consider the provisions of section 57 of the Act which includes inter-alia comments and representations from interested and affected parties.
8 Final decision is taken at the committee hearing.  This is where the PRE is currently in terms of the process, having taken a decision on 201 metered taxi operating licence applications.
9 Decision is captured in the Land Transport Permit System.  A decision letter is compiled and sent out to the applicant.
10 Applicant is given 60 days to submit certain documents including vehicle registration and licensing papers, certificate of fitness, statement regarding compliance with labour laws, etc.  He/she may apply for a once-off extension of this period which may not exceed 30 days.
11 Vehicle is brought into the PRE offices for inspection.
12 The operating licence is issued by the PRE.

The 201 operating licence applications that the PRE has approved must now be captured and decision letters sent out to applicants. Applicants will thereafter be able to uplift these operating licences from the PRE.

E-hailing services like Uber, however, do not fall easily into the categories of a public transport service as prescribed by the National Land Transport Act, nor are they  specifically provided for in the City of Cape Town’s ITP. This situation can only be rectified through a change in legislation, whether that be an amendment to the NLTA, or the promulgation of a municipal by-law by the City of Cape Town. Both processes are currently under way, and are likely to produce answers to important questions posed by the entry of Uber into the public transport arena.

In the interim, various engagements have taken place between Western Cape Government, The City of Cape Town, and Uber, and partners have agreed that Uber partners will apply for metered taxi operating licences while amendments are effected to the National Land Transport Act to accommodate this new mode. The Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town remain in support of new and innovative ways of providing safe and reliable public transport, however we cannot shirk our responsibility for ensuring safety and compliance within the public transport space. This is as important for commuter safety as it is for the responsible management of the public transport industry. It is essential that operations within the industry are regularised to promote fairness and to avoid conflict.

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