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Canberra Taxis

By cranky - 23 February 2008 38

The ABC Stateline program has tonight highlighted the paucity of cabs at the airport, particularly mornings.

Scenes of queues 200 people long, and travellers pretty cross at the lack of cabs. One interviewee reckoned he will take his business to Newcastle next time.

The arogant inebriate reckons another heap of cab licenses will do the trick, the industry reckon there are not enough drivers, and the congestion is also to blame.

Fares are high. Service is appalling. Where does the blame lie?

What’s Your opinion?


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Canberra Taxis
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ant 11:34 pm 25 Feb 08

They should troop all those arrivals out onto the main road, with bits of cardboard with their destinations on. The traffic heading from the east into Canberra comes to a standstill from 8am onwards right outside the airport. the arrivals could be shuffled into cars heading their way with minimal disruption to traffic!

minime2 10:51 pm 25 Feb 08

I drove a cab for a bit .. for StGeorge in Sydney. Then they brought in the new cars – HQ Holdens. What a piece of crap that made-for-taxi-thing was. Pleasant job back then.

vibes 10:16 pm 25 Feb 08

Firstly, There are two forms of public transport in this town.which makes the problem a lack of public transport options.

Secondly, the chaos at the airport is largely the result of poor management and greed. Both on the part of the Airport’s owner and the local Government.

Also couple with these things the fact that between 8.00am and 9,00am each weekday morning about 8 planes arrive. These flights are usually 90-100% full of people travelling into Canberra for work or business.

needlenose 6:13 pm 25 Feb 08

@ Swaggie – I don’t know what assessments employers have made of the BBP amenities before leasing space out there, but my guess is that two main factors are in play: (a) a lot of the decisions are made by corporate areas of government departments who are sending parts of their organisation there and not going themselves; but more importantly, (b) there is just no office space available anywhere in Canberra. A year or two ago I had teams split across different buildings and was working (in a public service job) in a space over the top of a coffee shop, because there was just nothing else for rent. So I think most of the decisions about leasing at BBP are driven by an urgent need for office space, even if the amenities are poor.

Re taxis – if I’m travelling for any period less than three days I take my car to the airport and leave it in the long-stay park, because it is SO much easier than waiting for a taxi. And yeah, I always cruise by the taxi queue on my way out to see whether I can offer a lift, only I drive a two-seater, so can’t always help.

Dave_K 5:47 pm 25 Feb 08

Try this for an idea (until the airport traffic management people wise up and flood the zone with an army of fluoro-vested bullies …): In some parts of the US, they call it ‘slugging’. People needing a ride hang out at a designated area, perhaps near the Virgin Blue arrivals area where there is lots of space, and if you’re going back into town after dropping someone off, you could roll by, call out your destination and offer a ride. Alternatively, pick up a few riders as you come out of the arrivals area on your way back to the car park. Potentially could pick up a few bucks for parking or petrol and stick it right up the property developers, er, airport owners responsible for this mess. Plus you’re helping cut down on traffic in the area and cutting your carbon emissions. I know people will throw up all sorts of legal issues. But in the Washington DC area, one of the most litigious-minded cities in America, the slugging system works well and with a minimum of fuss because everyone has a common interest (in this case, escaping the airport in a timely manner).

ant 4:57 pm 25 Feb 08

I saw that Tele headline posted outside the newsagent today. I hope they sheeted the blame where it belongs. Perhaps Malcolm Farr tried to get a taxi and was getting his revenge.

Because the airport put being an Airport on the back burner while it lept into property development, it has created a situation where the airport cannot function properly.

caf 11:41 am 25 Feb 08

Canberra Airport made the front page of the Daily Tele today – the first paragraph really gives the flavour of the article:

Agonising delays and “disgraceful” services have forced frustrated passengers, business and tourism leaders to slam Canberra International Airport as a “joke”.

The taxi queues also feature prominently in the article.

neanderthalsis 10:28 am 25 Feb 08

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again… What this town needs is a LIGHT RAIL system linking major centres. A tram / train to the airport that links Parkes/Barton, Civic, Belco, Woden and even the outer-boondocks at Tuggeranong would certainly ease traffic congestion.

s-s-a 10:23 am 25 Feb 08

Re Skidbladnir’s suggestion – I dropped a friend and her kiddies off in the morning last year and acutally thought of leaving via the taxi line to offer lifts to Woden except I was in her car not mine. It’s a good idea tho.

Anyone who’s ever had to deal with EITHER Aerial or Cab Xpress for booking wheelchair access transport will probably be joining me in a wry smile at the problems experienced by “normal” taxi users.

I’m a big fan of having shuttle buses running from the airport. Devising an itinerary is not difficult – ask people who have ever spent time delivering pizza (as I did for 4 years whilst in undergrad uni, many years ago). You could then offer special taxi licenses to drivers of 12 seat minibuses, which would charge passengers by destination (ie 5 different destinations, 5 fares). It would work especially well if the guy who stands at the front of the taxi line could say “Tuggeranong people in this van, Woden people this van, City people that van, etc”.

Skidbladnir 9:18 am 25 Feb 08

There were people in the taxi line interviewed on Stateline that were aksing for locals to do what I’ve done a few times recently…

If you’re there to drop someone off or pick someone up, and don’t mind a minor detour on the way home, scream out to the queue where you’re headed and tell them its conditional on getting them to pay your airport parking ($2 for six minutes?) or chip in for fuel.

Occasionally someone will pay you a fortune for the convenience of you dropping them off in Civic\Woden\Tuggeranong, where you were headed anyway.

ant 11:19 pm 24 Feb 08

A certain gov’t department has the taxi numbers programed into the phone at the reception desk. There’s quite a few of them, but the reception people always recommend a certain company. It’s not Aerial and their badge-engineered entities.

Ruby Wednesday 10:17 pm 24 Feb 08

We used the Silver Service option when we went overseas in December. The car was booked a week in advance. 8 am came…no car. Called the contact number who said they’d lost all their bookings and a car (a regular taxi) would be sent immediately. An hour of standing outside becoming increasingly pissed off, still no taxi. But for the willingness of a friend’s mother to come take us to the airport, we would have missed our flight to Sydney at the very least and perhaps our connection to LA. We had travel insurance, but it’s still a pain in the arse. I wrote a letter to Silver Service to complain, and they wrote back saying they’re ‘investigating’. I’ll believe it when I see it. Luckily I’m a paranoid traveller who leaves loads of time at the airport (Though when we finally got there, Qantas put us on a flight that was departing right then as storms were rolling in. Not a fun day!)

barney 6:21 pm 24 Feb 08

—> If you want to wait for 10-30 minutes waiting for somebody to speak to, say ‘AGENT’.

—> If you would like our voice-recognition system to make an incorrect/un verified booking, say ‘EXPRESS’.

ant 3:58 pm 24 Feb 08

Agree, RuffnReady, something like the US airport shuttles, which are vans. Some have a booking desk at the airport where you put in your request, others just come and stop at the van stop, you all discuss with the driver where you are going, he devises an itinerary and in you all hop. Takes a bit longer depending on where your destination comes in the itinerary, but it’s effective and cheap. $20 into Manhatten from JFK some years back, $38 from SLC airport to Park City… You tip the driver to make up his wages. makes ’em very helpful.

RuffnReady 2:42 pm 24 Feb 08

As others have said, cab driving is a very marginal industry, and a difficult one to regulate properly because of the:
1. interaction of the price of fares, demand, and driver wages;
2. the patchiness of the work – morning (7.30-9.30am) and afternoon (4-6) weekday rushes, Friday and Saturday nights aside, at any given time much of the fleet is sitting there doing nothing because there is not enough work to go around;
3. lack of drivers because the wages are poor, shifts are long, and customers are increasingly difficult to deal with.

I drove for 6 years in the “good old days” of Canberra cab driving, the mid-late 1990s. Back then fares were significantly lower (when I stopped in 2000, rate 2 was 1.12/km and flagfall 2.60 – now 1.89 (?) and 4.00), and I have a feeling more people used cabs because I still made good money. In fact, the money I was making in 2000 is about the same as what drivers make today, 8 years later, even though fares have increased by over 70%! Not only that, I didn’t have much trouble with customers back then, but every cabbie I meet today talks about the violence and rudeness of the customers. At the moment it seems like no-one is winning – not the passengers, drivers or owners.

As for the airport situation, if they ran 12/20-seater mini-buses to Civic, Belconnen and the Parl Triangle for set fees (like happens out of American airports), the situation would improve vastly.

Shannski 2:18 pm 24 Feb 08

Every cab doesn’t turn up eventually…

I’ve made a booking, and waited… I’ve called, they said it was on the way, and hours later the cab still hasn’t turned up.

And if you ask to speak to an agent, your waiting in a retarded long queue.

Devil_n_Disquiz 2:13 pm 24 Feb 08

No,,Every cab will turn up. EVENTUALLY 🙂

If you read carefully you will note that I said “Guaranteed pick up on time”

There is a difference.

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