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    Tough Uber laws lockout ride-sharing services from taxi ranks

    New laws won't make it any easier for new transport services to launch in Cairns.

    The Queensland government has introduced hefty fines to keep Uber off taxi drivers’ turf.

    Ride-booking services like Uber were legalised in Queensland earlier this year. 

    But under new laws anyone other than a taxi driver parked in a taxi rank will now be slugged with a $243 fine - up from just $48.

    Uber drivers caught soliciting fares will also be slapped with an $487 on-the-spot fine.

    Minister for Transport Stirling Hinchliffe says the tough penalties will protect licensed taxi operators.

    “Ride-booking drivers don’t have access to taxi ranks, nor are they able to pick up passengers who try to hail them from the side of the road.”

    “Ride-booking drivers are only able to accept fares from customers who have pre-arranged a booking with a smartphone app, or through a specialist phone booking agent,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

    “With the festive season now in full swing, inspectors from the Department of Transport and Main Roads will be highly visible around taxi ranks and entertainment precincts to ensure ride-booking drivers are doing the right thing.” 

    The new penalties form part of the Taxi and Limousine Industry Assistance Scheme Regulation.

    Uber has yet to launch in Cairns but has previously tested the market.

    Meanwhile similar services are set to start up in Queensland next year - including women’s-only ride-sharing app Shebah.