Long Awaited improvements to taxi services

By 17 January, 2011 19

Taxi!

Chief Minister Stanhope has announced the change we’ve been waiting for in Canberra’s taxi fleet.

The key measures are:

    – the release of at least 25 new standard taxi plates and four new wheelchair taxi plates in 2011;
    – annual increases in taxi licence numbers to ensure that taxi supply meets demand;
    – the introduction of a centralised booking service for wheelchair-accessible taxis to improve reliability and service quality;
    – improving taxi driver training standards; and
    – enhancing compliance activity to ensure high standards of service to taxi users.

Mr Stanhope added, “I understand there may not be unanimous support for some of the recommendations coming out of the review.

“However, I look forward to continuing to work with the industry and taxi user groups to implement the review outcomes as effectively as possible. It is in the interests of all parties that we have an efficient, reliable and viable taxi industry and work collaboratively to achieve that.”

Is there anything he’s missed?

UPDATE: The source documents are available now:

The PWC report.
The TAMS report.
The ACT Government responses to the reports.

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19 Responses to Long Awaited improvements to taxi services
#1
eyeLikeCarrots4:44 pm, 17 Jan 11

Dear Mr Stanhope and Taxi Drivers of the ACT,

On the rare occasion that I go out, I would much rather not drink, enabling me to drive home safetly.

On the rare occasion that I go out and do drink, I really have no practical option (other than walking) than to subject myself to a ride in one of your vehicles, featuring the following:

1) Drivers who spend the trip bitching about low patronage and how more plates will lower thier incomes even further.
2) Drivers who bitch about high patronage (yep…. catch22 really) and having to be cab drivers becuase years ago they were doctors or engineers.
3) Drivers with poor knowledge of our streets (And I’m talking Civic to Yarralumla)
4) Drivers with poor knowledge of our road rules (like which side of the road to use or what the red and white sign with STOP means.. I’m really not kidding, I’ve had more taxi car seat covers disappear up my arse than I care to recall).
5) Drivers with absolutley no knowledge of defensive driving techniques (A finger and verbal abuse spraying khat and cola at the windscreen becuase the car that your were tailgating slowed down to turn a corner, is not defensive driving).
6) Drivers who appear to be playing Pac Man on the little computer booking thing – rather than pay some sort of attention to the road.
7) Drivers who are currently off thier heads on Khat (As your Somali friends about that one) and cola to escape the bitterness in thier mouths cause by massice Khat consumption.
8. Drivers more concerned in having an animated arguement (Sorry to say that I don’t understand the various languages but I’m sure its very entertaining) with the person on the other end of the mobile phone, than offering other motorists any sort of consideration for thier lawful road use.

Do you think there is much we can do about these problems ?

#2
Hercsie8:46 am, 18 Jan 11

+1 eyeLikeCarrots

along with the acrid smell of body odour – especially when it is + 30 degrees and the driver refuses to turn on the airconditioning

#3
Snarky9:27 am, 18 Jan 11

[shrug] Taxis are going stay pretty much the way they are until taxi driving pays well enough to attract a better educated, better motivated class of driver. There’s already a shortage of drivers – issuing new plates isn’t going to help.

[disclosure - been there, driven that]

#4
AG Canberra10:58 am, 18 Jan 11

Given a set of plates still costs upwards of 200K, it will be interesting to see if anyone actually decides to take up the offer of a new set. The industry keeps saying how there is no money in the industry and how tough they are doing it – if that is the case then none of these will be sold….

#5
karmacarrier3:41 pm, 18 Jan 11

Let’s put some myths to rest.
1. Not all taxi drivers come from Somalia, have bad hygeine, can’t drive or don’t know their way around. Good story but lacks honesty.
2. Taxi plates are no longer sold by Government. They’re leased out at $20,000 per year. Read the PWC report.

Also read the report’s findings about current driver and taxi operator incomes.
You get what you pay for.
At the moment the public gets a raw deal.
Because cab drivers and cab operators get a raw deal.
Fix the problem by lifting the cap on fares.
That way the incomes will match the market pressure caused by more cabs.
Simple – but politically unpalatable.
Short, medium and long term prognosis – further deteriorating taxi service.
Looking forward to the next review.
Could get even more cabs.
Round and round we go in an inward spiral.

#6
buzz8195:14 pm, 18 Jan 11

karmacarrier said :

Let’s put some myths to rest.
1. Not all taxi drivers come from Somalia, have bad hygeine, can’t drive or don’t know their way around. Good story but lacks honesty.
2. Taxi plates are no longer sold by Government. They’re leased out at $20,000 per year. Read the PWC report.

Also read the report’s findings about current driver and taxi operator incomes.
You get what you pay for.
At the moment the public gets a raw deal.
Because cab drivers and cab operators get a raw deal.
Fix the problem by lifting the cap on fares.
That way the incomes will match the market pressure caused by more cabs.
Simple – but politically unpalatable.
Short, medium and long term prognosis – further deteriorating taxi service.
Looking forward to the next review.
Could get even more cabs.
Round and round we go in an inward spiral.

Lift the cap on fares? They are already to damn expensive! I mean $50 from Mawson to Wanniassa??? $80 from City to Gordon, $50 from City to Belconnen.

How would making the fares more expensive help? There needs to be more competition so that people can afford to use them. The fares are about $30 to expensive. You can hire a Limo at $60 an hour, that would be cheaper then catching a Taxi.

It is public transport, the public should be able to afford it.

#7
Waiting For Godot5:19 pm, 18 Jan 11

Has anybody seen that grossly obese driver who can barely fit into the cab? That turned me off taxis forever.

#8
cranky6:54 pm, 18 Jan 11

Something is seriously wrong here.

We have drivers describing earning $100 for a 12 hour shift, and fares charged approaching daylight robbery ($50 City to Belconnen).

Just who is making the money? Are we like the utterly corrupt NSW cab industry, who charge 10% on every credit card transaction?

Drivers are well described in above posts. Not endearing creatures, and indicative of low income earners. Don’t think they are exaggerating their poverty. Perhaps the owners would like to add their opinion to the debate? Maybe Canberra Cabs would like to open the books showing how they are existing on a miniscule income?

Massive income and no winners?

#9
karmacarrier6:56 pm, 18 Jan 11

Waiting For Godot said :

Has anybody seen that grossly obese driver who can barely fit into the cab? That turned me off taxis forever.

Wow – is that Stanhope’s stragedy (real word – don’t spellcheck it)?
More taxis, lower incomes, skinnier taxi drivers.
How clever.

#10
jase!7:26 pm, 18 Jan 11

after watching a bit of Win news i have finally managed to get to the keyboard after laughing like a loon.

what caused this much mirth? the goatee’d taxi spokesman comparing waiting in a waiting room for a doctor to waiting for a cab and if we are prepared to wait for one then we should have no problem waiting for the other.

nothing like treating your customers with contempt, it isn’t that acceptable to wait for a tardy doctor but having to wait the best part of an hour for a cab at the airport is ridiculous

#11
karmacarrier7:27 pm, 18 Jan 11

karmacarrier said :

How would making the fares more expensive help? There needs to be more competition so that people can afford to use them. The fares are about $30 to expensive. You can hire a Limo at $60 an hour, that would be cheaper then catching a Taxi.

It is public transport, the public should be able to afford it.[/quote>

It seems that the only reliable attribute of the review and its immediate aftermath is ‘exagerration’.

If you have receipts for the fares cited you should make a formal complaint to the RTA and have the drivers kicked out of the industry.
If you don’t have receipts then it didn’t happen.

If you want to know what determines taxi fares then read the PWC report.
Get informed.

Alternatively get a Limo – if you can find one when you want one (like 3 on a Sunday morning).
Chances are they don’t want YOU then.

Funny how taxi fares are capped but Limo fares aren’t.
Work that out.

Last option, the public transport one.
Catch the bus that no-one seems to be catching .

#12
karmacarrier8:21 pm, 18 Jan 11

cranky said :

Something is seriously wrong here.

We have drivers describing earning $100 for a 12 hour shift, and fares charged approaching daylight robbery ($50 City to Belconnen).

Just who is making the money? Are we like the utterly corrupt NSW cab industry, who charge 10% on every credit card transaction?

Drivers are well described in above posts. Not endearing creatures, and indicative of low income earners. Don’t think they are exaggerating their poverty. Perhaps the owners would like to add their opinion to the debate? Maybe Canberra Cabs would like to open the books showing how they are existing on a miniscule income?

Massive income and no winners?

Let’s put another myth to rest.
Canberra Cabs don’t own or operate any taxis.
They are ‘middle men’.
They charge each affiliated taxi nearly $20,000 per year to connect them with prospective customers.
Through their grossly inadequate and unreliable booking and despatch systems.
Presently 300 cabs paying $20,000 each – total $6million per year.
They’re not doing it too tough – in fact they’re not doing much at all.
But that’s $20,000 each taxi has to find before getting into the black.
Read the PWC report.
Why do the taxis pay?
Because they can’t legally operate unless they are affiliated with a network.
Might be described as extortion in some other places.
Who’s getting fat while the taxi drivers get skinny?
Funny how taxis are legally required to belong to a network but Limos aren’t.
Work that one out.

#13
buzz8199:01 pm, 18 Jan 11

karmacarrier said :

buzz819 said :

How would making the fares more expensive help? There needs to be more competition so that people can afford to use them. The fares are about $30 to expensive. You can hire a Limo at $60 an hour, that would be cheaper then catching a Taxi.

It is public transport, the public should be able to afford it.[/quote>

It seems that the only reliable attribute of the review and its immediate aftermath is ‘exagerration’.

If you have receipts for the fares cited you should make a formal complaint to the RTA and have the drivers kicked out of the industry.
If you don’t have receipts then it didn’t happen.

If you want to know what determines taxi fares then read the PWC report.
Get informed.

Alternatively get a Limo – if you can find one when you want one (like 3 on a Sunday morning).
Chances are they don’t want YOU then.

Funny how taxi fares are capped but Limo fares aren’t.
Work that out.

Last option, the public transport one.
Catch the bus that no-one seems to be catching .

It didn’t happen? Are you stupid, it did happen, it will happen, it does happen.

I see that you think that you are a diligent taxi driver, I doubt you are. If your attitude about the above observations, then you need to pull head out of bum and get real.

You ask any member of the public who is waiting for a taxi between 12am and 6am in the morning how much they get charged for their short taxi ride.

Obviously me stating prices of rides that did occur hits a sore point for you, not my fault ALL taxi drivers are money grubbing thieves, who can’t speak English, can’t get from one end of Canberra to the other, they don’t know what “No Parking”, “No Stopping” or wearing a clean uniform means.

Your backing the wrong group of people here, I’d rather ask for the over paid whining bus drivers to get more money then ask for taxi’s to be able to put their fares higher.

#14
karmacarrier9:21 pm, 18 Jan 11

buzz819 said :

karmacarrier said :

karmacarrier said :

How would making the fares more expensive help? There needs to be more competition so that people can afford to use them. The fares are about $30 to expensive. You can hire a Limo at $60 an hour, that would be cheaper then catching a Taxi.

It is public transport, the public should be able to afford it.[/quote>

It seems that the only reliable attribute of the review and its immediate aftermath is ‘exagerration’.

If you have receipts for the fares cited you should make a formal complaint to the RTA and have the drivers kicked out of the industry.
If you don’t have receipts then it didn’t happen.

If you want to know what determines taxi fares then read the PWC report.
Get informed.

Alternatively get a Limo – if you can find one when you want one (like 3 on a Sunday morning).
Chances are they don’t want YOU then.

Funny how taxi fares are capped but Limo fares aren’t.
Work that out.

Last option, the public transport one.
Catch the bus that no-one seems to be catching .

It didn’t happen? Are you stupid, it did happen, it will happen, it does happen.

I see that you think that you are a diligent taxi driver, I doubt you are. If your attitude about the above observations, then you need to pull head out of bum and get real.

You ask any member of the public who is waiting for a taxi between 12am and 6am in the morning how much they get charged for their short taxi ride.

Obviously me stating prices of rides that did occur hits a sore point for you, not my fault ALL taxi drivers are money grubbing thieves, who can’t speak English, can’t get from one end of Canberra to the other, they don’t know what “No Parking”, “No Stopping” or wearing a clean uniform means.

Your backing the wrong group of people here, I’d rather ask for the over paid whining bus drivers to get more money then ask for taxi’s to be able to put their fares higher.

Like I said

Make a proper comlaint
Get informed
Call a Limo
Catch a bus

Like you said
The competition’s there

Use it

#15
our-interface9:53 pm, 18 Jan 11

I despise the ACT taxi service.

I had to alert the police following a ride home in which the taxi driver tried to grab me and assault me sexually ( I am a young female). I managed to get away, but ever since I have been wary of taxi drivers. In my hometown there was a big uproar following a taxi driver being stabbed and there was a big call for increased security. I think there should be increased security in Canberra cabs for both drivers and patrons. I understand how hard it is to police these type of things though, but it makes me pretty sad to think that what happened to me could happen to anyone else ( especially someone who is weaker than me, which isn’t hard).

And I agree with everyone else, it’s bloody expensive to catch a cab in the ACT.

I doubt there’s much anyone can really do about the taxi system in Canberra.

#16
Devil_n_Disquiz2:30 pm, 19 Jan 11

Waiting For Godot said :

Has anybody seen that grossly obese driver who can barely fit into the cab? That turned me off taxis forever.

I am thinking you refer to Steven. Poor fellow. He has a medical condition which while doesn’t impact on his ability to hold a C endorsement on his license, has the rather unfortunate result in him being ‘larger than average’. I won’t go into it too much except to say he was a passenger on UA811 in 1989 and was seated two rows behind some seats that went missing.

AG Canberra said :

Given a set of plates still costs upwards of 200K, it will be interesting to see if anyone actually decides to take up the offer of a new set. The industry keeps saying how there is no money in the industry and how tough they are doing it – if that is the case then none of these will be sold….

None will be sold. They are govt leased plates. $20000 a year. More income for the govt so of course they are keen to see more plates on.
Yes they will be taken up. Will they stay out there ? That remains to be seen. January has been very quiet with average takings per driver/operator being in the order of $100-$150 a shift. Or $50-$75 a shift if you are just the driver. Out of that $50-$75 a day you can then take out GST and PAYG and thats what you are left with. The operator can take out fuel, maintenance, GST, PAYG, Base fees, Insurances, Rego etc etc etc out of his. Given that it costs $220 a day for a taxi before you even get it out the driveway,,,you can see Jan is a great month for making money.
Hopefully this will see those 25 plates back on the shelf in double quick time. Perhaps then Stanhope will melt them down and make some pretty public art with them.

#17
eyeLikeCarrots4:30 pm, 19 Jan 11

karmacarrier said :

Let’s put some myths to rest.

1. Not all taxi drivers come from Somalia, have bad hygeine, can’t drive or don’t know their way around. Good story but lacks honesty.

Lacks honesty ?

2 years in Canberra I have been unlucky enough to experience atleast one negative or objectionable thing from your little list.

Of note – the chap who was from Somalia

*did know how to drive (better than many other people in Australia)
*didn’t smell
*spoke effective good english
*mostly knew the way around

Was a fair bit off his head on khat… some of our conversation was weird (could have been his fatigue or the fact that he was off his face a bit).

And I could that as one of the best taxi trips I’ve ever had.

#18
Rollersk8r4:55 pm, 19 Jan 11

jase! said :

after watching a bit of Win news i have finally managed to get to the keyboard after laughing like a loon.

what caused this much mirth? the goatee’d taxi spokesman comparing waiting in a waiting room for a doctor to waiting for a cab and if we are prepared to wait for one then we should have no problem waiting for the other.

nothing like treating your customers with contempt, it isn’t that acceptable to wait for a tardy doctor but having to wait the best part of an hour for a cab at the airport is ridiculous

Exactly what I was going to say!

I don’t pretend to understand the systems – and it’s not my job to know. All I know is a sub 15-minute taxi drive to the airport at 5am is $50. I then get out in Melbourne and travel about 5 times the distance and it’s LESS than the Canberra leg.

#19
karmacarrier7:27 pm, 19 Jan 11

Devil_n_Disquiz said :

Waiting For Godot said :

Has anybody seen that grossly obese driver who can barely fit into the cab? That turned me off taxis forever.

I am thinking you refer to Steven. Poor fellow. He has a medical condition which while doesn’t impact on his ability to hold a C endorsement on his license, has the rather unfortunate result in him being ‘larger than average’.

I won’t go into it too much except to say he was a passenger on UA811 in 1989 and was seated two rows behind some seats that went missing.

AG Canberra said :

Given a set of plates still costs upwards of 200K, it will be interesting to see if anyone actually decides to take up the offer of a new set. The industry keeps saying how there is no money in the industry and how tough they are doing it – if that is the case then none of these will be sold….

None will be sold. They are govt leased plates. $20000 a year. More income for the govt so of course they are keen to see more plates on.
Yes they will be taken up. Will they stay out there ?

That remains to be seen. January has been very quiet with average takings per driver/operator being in the order of $100-$150 a shift. Or $50-$75 a shift if you are just the driver. Out of that $50-$75 a day you can then take out GST and PAYG and thats what you are left with. The operator can take out fuel, maintenance, GST, PAYG, Base fees, Insurances, Rego etc etc etc out of his. Given that it costs $220 a day for a taxi before you even get it out the driveway,,,you can see Jan is a great month for making money.
Hopefully this will see those 25 plates back on the shelf in double quick time. Perhaps then Stanhope will melt them down and make some pretty public art with them.

I wonder if Steven knows he’s become a public figure.
Just shows that people shouldn’t form opinions or judgements on things they know nothing about.
But it looks like becoming the national sport.

I agree with the sentiments about Stanhope’s abiding interests.
But I have to disagree about the future of 25 new taxis .

This is because the real number is 25 new ones, plus the 16 that have already been returned to Government by the poor bastards who went broke thinking that a Government-endorsed enterprise was a relatively safe opportunity.
Then there’s the 4 wheelchair accessible taxis that were also returned by now-unemployed and broke participants in that Government enterprise.
Plus there’s the next 25, later this year, that will go to another 25 geniuses who think they’re smarter than the last lot that went broke.

All-up 70 new potential bankrupts.
Plus any number of existing taxi operators who will also become casualties along the way.

It’s all good news.

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