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Chiefly wrath falls on Alistair Coe for failing to infiltrate magic circles

By johnboy - 18 January 2011 15

Chief Minister Stanhope is having a spray at the Liberals’ Alistair Coe for failing to have the PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ report into taxi industry reform (following on from yesterday’s announcement).

“Yesterday, he told members of the media that the ACT Government had yet to release the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) analysis of the Territory’s taxi industry; this is the same report that is on the front page of the Department of Territory and Municipal Services website.

“This is the same report which, in draft version, the Government made widely available to taxi industry, wheelchair accessible taxi user groups and business sector participants during the taxi review.

“And this is the same report which formed the basis of the taxi roundtable meeting of all stakeholders in September last year.

“It seems that everyone in Canberra who has an involvement or interest in the taxi industry is well aware that this report has long been in the public domain in one form or another – everyone that is except Mr Coe.

Another quality display of chiefly petulance.

Much as it pains me to go to bat for Alistair Coe there are some problems though:

    1. The TAMS website only linked to the taxi documents between 16:00 and 16:20 yesterday (yes I have a record of this). So unless Mr Coe was speaking very late in the day to the journalists he was actually correct.

    2. Circulation amongst buddies, cronies, select groups, and magic circles is not, in a million years, the same thing as publication.

Perhaps the public, who have to use the taxi system, could have been included in the debate?

Or are taxis just for drunken labor heavyweights on a driving ban?

(It would, however, be nice if Mr Coe could also publish his response to the taxi reforms rather than mouthing off to select media mates)

What’s Your opinion?


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15 Responses to
Chiefly wrath falls on Alistair Coe for failing to infiltrate magic circles
karmacarrier 10:23 pm 20 Jan 11

old canberran said :

Devil_n_Disquiz said :

old canberran said :

With fare prices the way they are today it shouldn’t be too difficult for a driver to earn $200 in an 8 hour shift.

hahahahahhahaha pls come and show me how its done.

$200 for the driver means that the taxi needs to take $400. Thats $50 an hour over your 8 hour shift. The average fare (note I said average) is $15. That average waiting time between jobs is 35-40 mins.

I said “It shouldn’t be too difficult” but obviously it’s impossible based on your comments. The PWC report states that the number of jobs per cab per day was 22 in 2009 (down from 28 in2005). At an average of $15 per job the daily take would be $330 or $165 per 12 hour shift half of which may go to the driver depending on his commission rate.
I must admit I’m having a problem reconciling the comments that there is an average waiting time between jobs of 35-40 minutes and that people are complaining about the service. The fact that daily jobs per cab have dropped in 4 years indicates there is definitely something wrong somewhere.

The whole scene has changed over the years. After the war taxi licences were ballotted to ex servicemen in one ballot and drivers in another ballot. Most of the day shift driving was done by the owners who took some pride in their business. According to the PWC report few owners drive as most plates are leased out. I know one guy who used to have more than 5 plates that he leased and managed. Maybe this is where the problem is as it sounds like the industry is pretty sick.

There are probably 2 parts to reconciling the 40 minute waits with the complaints:

1. Not all the complaints are about delays – some are just about the events of the actual cab ride.
2. Delays do occur because of the inherent unreliability of the booking service.

It’s not unusual for a taxi to be sent to a wrong address by the computerised booking service.
This means that the real customer doesn’t even get a taxi until they ring up to speak to a human to find out where their taxi is.
At the same time, the taxi that went to the incorrect address doesn’t get a fare.
But this isn’t the taxi driver’s fault.
It’s the network’s fault.
No apologies, no compensation to the driver, no explanation to the customer.
Also the automated booking service loses jobs in the system with monotonous regularity.
When you ring up to find out where your taxi is, you’ll probably be told that the taxi has claimed that he went to the pick-up but no-one was there.
Not true – don’t believe it.

Believe the PWC assessment – it’s true.

old canberran 5:24 pm 20 Jan 11

Devil_n_Disquiz said :

old canberran said :

With fare prices the way they are today it shouldn’t be too difficult for a driver to earn $200 in an 8 hour shift.

hahahahahhahaha pls come and show me how its done.

$200 for the driver means that the taxi needs to take $400. Thats $50 an hour over your 8 hour shift. The average fare (note I said average) is $15. That average waiting time between jobs is 35-40 mins.

I said “It shouldn’t be too difficult” but obviously it’s impossible based on your comments. The PWC report states that the number of jobs per cab per day was 22 in 2009 (down from 28 in2005). At an average of $15 per job the daily take would be $330 or $165 per 12 hour shift half of which may go to the driver depending on his commission rate.
I must admit I’m having a problem reconciling the comments that there is an average waiting time between jobs of 35-40 minutes and that people are complaining about the service. The fact that daily jobs per cab have dropped in 4 years indicates there is definitely something wrong somewhere.

The whole scene has changed over the years. After the war taxi licences were ballotted to ex servicemen in one ballot and drivers in another ballot. Most of the day shift driving was done by the owners who took some pride in their business. According to the PWC report few owners drive as most plates are leased out. I know one guy who used to have more than 5 plates that he leased and managed. Maybe this is where the problem is as it sounds like the industry is pretty sick.

PigDog 9:18 am 20 Jan 11

“And this is the same report which formed the basis of the taxi roundtable meeting of all stakeholders in September last year.”

I get taxis all the time, (both for work and, ah, drinking purposes) so I am a stakeholder. But I wasn’t at the meeting. Where you??

Devil_n_Disquiz 8:21 pm 19 Jan 11

old canberran said :

With fare prices the way they are today it shouldn’t be too difficult for a driver to earn $200 in an 8 hour shift.

hahahahahhahaha pls come and show me how its done.

$200 for the driver means that the taxi needs to take $400. Thats $50 an hour over your 8 hour shift. The average fare (note I said average) is $15. That average waiting time between jobs is 35-40 mins.

breda 7:43 pm 19 Jan 11

Back in the Dark Ages I worked on a NSW government exercise about fixing up the taxi industry. The problems were exactly the same (as they seem to be in every State and Territory) – governments took a short term cash gain by selling licenses (plates) which then became assets in their own right. So, the structure of the industry became driven by the price of these artificial assets.

Imagine if the government sold restricted numbers of licenses to – I don’t know – operate a bakery, or a sweet shop. Suddenly, the whole baking or retail lolly industry would become subject to all sorts of weird distorting forces, like the taxi industry. These include low pay for drivers and constant pressure from existing plate owners to prop up the value of their government created asset. To get a return on the intrinsically worthless asset, fares have to be kept artificially high. And so it goes.

In NSW, we worked out that buying out the plates would cost around $1 billion. Not surprisingly, Treasury had a fit and that was it. Never going to happen.

No cabs are entirely driven by owners, and few are predominantly driven by owners. There are a few plate owners in the ACT with well over a million dollars (more than 5) worth of plates.

It would take a lot of money, and political pain, to fix up the taxi industry, by getting rid of the restricted licensing system which has long outlived whatever purpose it may have had. I don’t think anyone even remembers what that was.

Grrrr 7:31 pm 19 Jan 11

old canberran said :

With fare prices the way they are today it shouldn’t be too difficult for a driver to earn $200 in an 8 hour shift.

Wow, $25 an hour. An adult would probably earn better at Maccas. In this town of public servants that equates to what, an APS4 wage? (Taking into account various PS benefits..)

karmacarrier 7:07 pm 19 Jan 11

old canberran said :

Strange how not much has changed in 50 years. In 1960 there were 50 taxis in Canberra for a population of around 50,000, one cab per 1,000. Today there are 333 cabs with 25 to come making 358 for a population of around 360,000 roughly one cab per 1,000.
The same gripes existed 50 years ago and the same action was taken then and ever since ie release more plates.
What the government of the day fails to understand is that taxis are not designed to move a lot of people in a short space of time. That’s for buses and they aren’t around when people want to go home after a night out.
I also believe that service went backwards when Aerial Taxis introduced computerised booking and despatch systems. It was a lot more efficient when real people operated the phones and the 2-way radio. It was also more efficient when owners did most of the driving as they took some pride in their business and they were involved in the day to day running of things.
By the way, a driver’s commission used to be 40%. With fare prices the way they are today it shouldn’t be too difficult for a driver to earn $200 in an 8 hour shift.

Yeah, I like the past.
Problem is we’re dealing with the present – and the future.

The other problem is that we’re dealing with severely depressed per taxi workloads.

Sure a driver can get $50+ for a trip from the airport to either the far west or the far south.
But he can wait over an hour to do it.
Then he has to wait somewhere for the next job.
The real world of taxi drivers involves 45 minuters of waiting for nearly every job.
Some are worth $50+, but most are worth $20-.
Sure Friday and Saturday nights are busier – but they don’t happen 7 days a week.

Read the PWC report to find out what really happens.

karmacarrier 6:56 pm 19 Jan 11

Tetranitrate said :

karmacarrier said :

Tetranitrate said :

OpenYourMind said :

I don’t see how more taxis fix anything; it’s my understanding that the industry can’t attract enough drivers. More taxis will mean lower takings which will in turn attract fewer drivers.

How many readers here would be prepared to work a 12 hour shift and deal with carloads of drunk bogans all with the added bonus of no annual leave, sick leave or general benefits that your average worker gets?

It’s more complex than you think – most ‘drivers’ don’t actually own the taxi plates, they ‘share’ them with the owner, who gets a cut of their earnings.
-plates cost 10’s of thousands of dollars thanks to artificial scarcity.

If we were to abolish the present system in favor of a license system where they just needed police checks, driving test or whatever to operate, while there would be more competition, drivers wouldn’t be losing part of their earnings to those who own plates.
It isn’t impossible that we’d end up with more taxi’s *and* most drivers having better pay.

Of course it would screw over those who’ve put money down for plates unless there was compensation.
-there’s an argument that governments shouldn’t pay compensation for destroying the value these kinds of artificial assets though, as doing so unilaterally would reduce the credibility of future governments in creating these sorts of things in the first place.

Here’s an idea.
Why not compensate those people who have paid for these taxis?
Then have a freely available taxi system?

There are 2 reasons:

1. Government doesn’t actually want to compensate these people; even though Government was the beneficiary of the sale of these taxis.
2. Fares would go through the roof; because they would finally be subjected to real market forces.

Read the PWC report on the cost structure of taxis.

It’s more complex than you think.

Care to explain by what magical mechanism open competition on the supply side is going to increase fares? I can completely appreciate that an open system might have very little effect, but your statement flies in the face logic.

And if the government is at all able to introduce a new system without compensation then it’s in the public interest that they do so – the present mess should never have been created in the first place.

Happy to explain.
A bit of self-help probably wouldn’t be out of place either.
Like – read the PWC report.

The cost structure, exclusive of driver commissions, for the median taxi operation currently represents more than 50% of achievable fares revenue.
The industry norm for driver commissions is exactly 50% of achieved fares.
This means that the only way to keep a taxi on the road is to drive it yourself or take shortcuts within the cost side.
If you drive it yourself, you drive for less than the industry norm.
If you don’t drive it yourself, you reduce normal operating costs.
Perhaps you compromise safety.

Take the cap off the fares and two things happen:
1. Driver/operators get a fair income; and
2. Taxis stay safe.

Work it out.

Also, the public interest isn’t necessarily advanced by screwing essential public transport service providers who paid the Government for the priveledge of becoming slave labour.

Think about it – don’t just regurgitate economic theory.

old canberran 5:18 pm 19 Jan 11

Strange how not much has changed in 50 years. In 1960 there were 50 taxis in Canberra for a population of around 50,000, one cab per 1,000. Today there are 333 cabs with 25 to come making 358 for a population of around 360,000 roughly one cab per 1,000.
The same gripes existed 50 years ago and the same action was taken then and ever since ie release more plates.
What the government of the day fails to understand is that taxis are not designed to move a lot of people in a short space of time. That’s for buses and they aren’t around when people want to go home after a night out.
I also believe that service went backwards when Aerial Taxis introduced computerised booking and despatch systems. It was a lot more efficient when real people operated the phones and the 2-way radio. It was also more efficient when owners did most of the driving as they took some pride in their business and they were involved in the day to day running of things.
By the way, a driver’s commission used to be 40%. With fare prices the way they are today it shouldn’t be too difficult for a driver to earn $200 in an 8 hour shift.

Tetranitrate 3:21 pm 19 Jan 11

karmacarrier said :

Tetranitrate said :

OpenYourMind said :

I don’t see how more taxis fix anything; it’s my understanding that the industry can’t attract enough drivers. More taxis will mean lower takings which will in turn attract fewer drivers.

How many readers here would be prepared to work a 12 hour shift and deal with carloads of drunk bogans all with the added bonus of no annual leave, sick leave or general benefits that your average worker gets?

It’s more complex than you think – most ‘drivers’ don’t actually own the taxi plates, they ‘share’ them with the owner, who gets a cut of their earnings.
-plates cost 10’s of thousands of dollars thanks to artificial scarcity.

If we were to abolish the present system in favor of a license system where they just needed police checks, driving test or whatever to operate, while there would be more competition, drivers wouldn’t be losing part of their earnings to those who own plates.
It isn’t impossible that we’d end up with more taxi’s *and* most drivers having better pay.

Of course it would screw over those who’ve put money down for plates unless there was compensation.
-there’s an argument that governments shouldn’t pay compensation for destroying the value these kinds of artificial assets though, as doing so unilaterally would reduce the credibility of future governments in creating these sorts of things in the first place.

Here’s an idea.
Why not compensate those people who have paid for these taxis?
Then have a freely available taxi system?

There are 2 reasons:

1. Government doesn’t actually want to compensate these people; even though Government was the beneficiary of the sale of these taxis.
2. Fares would go through the roof; because they would finally be subjected to real market forces.

Read the PWC report on the cost structure of taxis.

It’s more complex than you think.

Care to explain by what magical mechanism open competition on the supply side is going to increase fares? I can completely appreciate that an open system might have very little effect, but your statement flies in the face logic.

And if the government is at all able to introduce a new system without compensation then it’s in the public interest that they do so – the present mess should never have been created in the first place.

OpenYourMind 10:56 pm 18 Jan 11

Tetranitrate you make it sound like the taxi owners are raking in millions. No matter the price of the plate, it’s a marginal business for all concerned. Yes, some owners can do ok, especially if they work smartly and build up to own multiple cabs. Not unlike any other business.

As an ex cabbie, I know how awful the conditions are for the drivers and how low the pay is. That said, I can’t say I’d want to own a cab.

karmacarrier 9:13 pm 18 Jan 11

Tetranitrate said :

OpenYourMind said :

I don’t see how more taxis fix anything; it’s my understanding that the industry can’t attract enough drivers. More taxis will mean lower takings which will in turn attract fewer drivers.

How many readers here would be prepared to work a 12 hour shift and deal with carloads of drunk bogans all with the added bonus of no annual leave, sick leave or general benefits that your average worker gets?

It’s more complex than you think – most ‘drivers’ don’t actually own the taxi plates, they ‘share’ them with the owner, who gets a cut of their earnings.
-plates cost 10’s of thousands of dollars thanks to artificial scarcity.

If we were to abolish the present system in favor of a license system where they just needed police checks, driving test or whatever to operate, while there would be more competition, drivers wouldn’t be losing part of their earnings to those who own plates.
It isn’t impossible that we’d end up with more taxi’s *and* most drivers having better pay.

Of course it would screw over those who’ve put money down for plates unless there was compensation.
-there’s an argument that governments shouldn’t pay compensation for destroying the value these kinds of artificial assets though, as doing so unilaterally would reduce the credibility of future governments in creating these sorts of things in the first place.

Here’s an idea.
Why not compensate those people who have paid for these taxis?
Then have a freely available taxi system?

There are 2 reasons:

1. Government doesn’t actually want to compensate these people; even though Government was the beneficiary of the sale of these taxis.
2. Fares would go through the roof; because they would finally be subjected to real market forces.

Read the PWC report on the cost structure of taxis.

It’s more complex than you think.

Tetranitrate 6:20 pm 18 Jan 11

OpenYourMind said :

I don’t see how more taxis fix anything; it’s my understanding that the industry can’t attract enough drivers. More taxis will mean lower takings which will in turn attract fewer drivers.

How many readers here would be prepared to work a 12 hour shift and deal with carloads of drunk bogans all with the added bonus of no annual leave, sick leave or general benefits that your average worker gets?

It’s more complex than you think – most ‘drivers’ don’t actually own the taxi plates, they ‘share’ them with the owner, who gets a cut of their earnings.
-plates cost 10’s of thousands of dollars thanks to artificial scarcity.

If we were to abolish the present system in favor of a license system where they just needed police checks, driving test or whatever to operate, while there would be more competition, drivers wouldn’t be losing part of their earnings to those who own plates.
It isn’t impossible that we’d end up with more taxi’s *and* most drivers having better pay.

Of course it would screw over those who’ve put money down for plates unless there was compensation.
-there’s an argument that governments shouldn’t pay compensation for destroying the value these kinds of artificial assets though, as doing so unilaterally would reduce the credibility of future governments in creating these sorts of things in the first place.

OpenYourMind 5:14 pm 18 Jan 11

I don’t see how more taxis fix anything; it’s my understanding that the industry can’t attract enough drivers. More taxis will mean lower takings which will in turn attract fewer drivers.

How many readers here would be prepared to work a 12 hour shift and deal with carloads of drunk bogans all with the added bonus of no annual leave, sick leave or general benefits that your average worker gets?

housebound 3:13 pm 18 Jan 11

“2. Circulation amongst buddies, cronies, select groups, and magic circles is not, in a million years, the same thing as publication.”

You have to admit – the ACT Government isconsistent if nothing else. We’ve been told by different ACT government departments that, in fact, various documents are publicly available – they must be because someone else got a copy at some stage. Even a live link for a very short time (I suspect even a day) makes something public in their view.

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