Ride-booking will become available in the Northern Territory early in the new year, after Hi Oscar secured approval from the Government.

The Perth-based company said it expected to have drivers on the road in Darwin and Alice Springs from February 1.

It comes after lengthy debate in the Territory, which ultimately saw rival company Uber abandon plans to set up shop, citing restrictive government regulations.

Hi Oscar ride-booking service comes to Darwin and Alice Springs after Uber abandons plans
Image: article supplied

Hi Oscar founder Daniel Broughton said his company could meet the NT’s requirements.

“To have it finally become a reality, we’re super excited.”

Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics Nicole Manison said the advent of ride-booking would bring the Territory in line with the rest of the country.

“We are are delivering on our promise to bring ride-sharing to the Territory,” she said.

“For the public, our ride-sharing regulations provide Territorians with an additional safe and convenient transport option.

“For jobseekers or those wishing to supplement their income, ride-sharing is a great option to make some extra cash.”

She said reduced taxi license fees taking effect from the start of February would help the industry remain competitive.

Taxi drivers not convinced by new regulation

Hi Oscar drivers will have to apply for approval from the NT Government and pass police and medical checks.

The drivers will pay about $600 in license and insurance fees in the Territory, which Uber said would deter would-be ride-bookers.

But long-term taxi driver Les Whittaker said the cost did not compare to overheads for commercial operators.

“They’re going to reduce [a Darwin taxi license] from $20,000 to $5,000 when ride-sharing comes in but it’s still $5,000 that ride-share drivers don’t have to pay,” he said.

“That’s their way of recouping the money that they’re losing from the license fees.”

Hi Oscar’s app is not able to process payments from Basics cards, which would prevent some people on income management from using the service.

This was originally published by ABC.net.au.

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