More taxis needed. Why?

Pandy 15 September 2008 42

Today the Canberra Grimes reported that the ACT Government is looking to establish a shuttle between Canberra Airport, the Parliamentary Triangle and Civic. The proposed service would be operated by up to 10, 11-seat taxis which would be dedicated to airport work during the morning and evening peaks. Still to be overcome is approval for new fares to cover the transport and commissionaires at the airport.

I ask why waste money on this proposal that will probably cost $1 million and be used by a dozen public servants (not the pollies in their limos) when for $200 million you could link the airport to Parliament Triangle via light rail and double patronage compared to the taxis from the airport?

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42 Responses to More taxis needed. Why?
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sexynotsmart sexynotsmart 1:02 am 16 Sep 08

Pandy, I think your post answers your question. $1m in not-quite-taxis yields similar benefits to a $200m tram.

If we’re going to spend a fifth of a billion, let’s make it real rail and connect it to the existing network. Say extend from the existing Kingston railway station, and follow the rest of the lines proposed by the light rail devotees.

I think that would get better patronage than just an Airport-to-Triangle light rail. Some travellers (especially those to-and-from Sydney) could avoid the airports altogether!

ant ant 1:43 am 16 Sep 08

There’s a lot of talk about resurrecting the local train service from Bung to Qbn and Canberra, to serve the thousands of commuters out here and also, HQ Joc. The train passes by quite close, close enough to look at a service and a short range shuttle from Burbong, for instance.

They’re about to spend millions on fixing up the various intersections on the King’s Highway for the 600-odd cars that’ll be on it when HQ Joc opens later this year (got a leaflet in the letterbox tonight). The mess outside Weetalaba is just the start.

If they got the local train going again, into Canberra, they’d need a decent system to move them from the station in Kingston and into the parly triangle, Civic and Woden.

Devil_n_Disquiz Devil_n_Disquiz 2:39 am 16 Sep 08

Aerial actually suggested this idea late last year but was shot down in flames by Capital Airport Group who said, No because Deanes buslines has the contract for the airport to city route, just get more cabs on the road. Perhaps Deanes contract is up for renewal is why this idea is back.

realityskin realityskin 7:14 am 16 Sep 08

hardly need more cabs on the road…there isn’t enough work for the poor cabbies as is.

seekay seekay 9:08 am 16 Sep 08

What is needed here is deregulation of taxis.

Sammy Sammy 9:10 am 16 Sep 08

Haha, did you seriously pose the question “Why spend $1 million when you could spend $200 million”?

verbalkint verbalkint 9:12 am 16 Sep 08

Does the government make money selling taxi licences? isn’t that half the point of having said licences in the first place?

Aurelius Aurelius 9:20 am 16 Sep 08

The problem with taxis at the airport is that smart cabbies avoid the place. There’ll be a couple of flights (and therefore a stack of work) and then nothing for 2 hours. You’re better off sitting on the main rank in Civic – at least the traffic there is constant.
That’s why taxis avoid the airport. It’s a pain in the butt to work the rank there.

jube_V8Fairlane_235kw jube_V8Fairlane_235kw 9:21 am 16 Sep 08

As a part-operator of the Canberra Airporter (airport shuttle service active in ’92/’93), an ex-cab driver and ex-hire car operator in Canberra, I would have to throw my weight at the light rail proposal. Airport shuttle buses are notoriously under utilised in Canberra, and have the same issues as any other road based solutions in so much as you can only travel as fast as the traffic jams allow (pretty simple logic, eh, Mr Snow).
Our service suffered also because Aerial Taxis blocked the acceptance of Cabcharge by our buses, which added to the difficulty of obtaining passengers. As a good 80% of passengers, especially in Parliamentary sitting times, travel on Cabcharge, then whatever system is put in place needs to be able to accept this payment – people with a voucher in their pocket are loath to pay cash funnily enough.
More cabs is not the solution – more cab drivers would be a much better approach. You can put as many taxis on the road as you like, but whilst there are not enough drivers to fill them, what are you going to do? The public also needs to take some responsibility for the driver shortage – a lot of drivers left the industry/are too scared to enter the industry due to perceived dangers (and often rightly so), bad work hours and conditions and crap pay. I personally wouldn’t work in an abbatoir for $9/hr, let alone drive drunken, unappreciative people who look down on me as a person for my chosen profession, only to see them run like hell when I pull up, thereby reducing my income further.

jakez jakez 9:55 am 16 Sep 08

Are you saying the people should take responsibility because we vote for politicians who think price controls are okay?

If so, fair enough.

caf caf 10:10 am 16 Sep 08

Aurelius: I would have thought that the really smart cabbies would know the times of day that a lot of flights are scheduled in, and roll up to the airport then!

As luck would have it, I was moseying around out at the airport this morning, and took this photo of part of the massive taxi queue. It extended from the new ranks to well past the Qantas entrance.

RuffnReady RuffnReady 10:13 am 16 Sep 08

Listen to jube, he’s making some sense. I too am an ex-cabbie, and the problem is not enough drivers. More plates are not necessary (there are already cabs sitting around without drivers all over town), and deregulation would exacerbate the problem. A well-organised shuttlebus service makes a lot of sense to me.

jakez jakez 10:17 am 16 Sep 08

RuffnReady said :

and deregulation would exacerbate the problem.

Markets clear Ruff, markets clear.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 10:28 am 16 Sep 08

An industry with only a few local operators, large unmet demand, but not enough employees sounds like an problem with the operators…

So for those of you who have worked or do work in the industry, why can’t they attract (and keep) enough drivers?

Aurelius Aurelius 10:47 am 16 Sep 08

Skid, because the pay and conditions suck, and the economy of the region is such that there are better ways to earn a quid.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 11:01 am 16 Sep 08

And Hargreaves’ solution of continually releasing new licences solves the pay & conditions problem how?

jessieduck jessieduck 11:13 am 16 Sep 08

I spoke to a cabbie last weekend on this- he said* that the of the last 25 new taxi licences granted, about 15 are actually on the road because there wasn’t a need for the rest. (*please note that I am quoting him, facts were not verified.)

As a regular user of public transport across Canberra I don’t see a reason for more cabs. I catch buses a lot of the time but when I have to call a cab they always arrive within 2 minutes of my call and I get where I am going with very little fuss.

As for the airport- the major issue is the roads out there and it’s farce that their upgrade was put off for so long.

Aurelius Aurelius 11:22 am 16 Sep 08

Skid, releasing more taxi plates hasn’t solved the problem yet. So Hargreaves is “solving” a problem with a strategy proven to fail. As a government minister, he would not be so silly…….. surely?

tylersmayhem tylersmayhem 11:37 am 16 Sep 08

I think it’s time that a full independent investigation is done on the Capital Airport Group and their disgusting monopoly. they have a license to print money and everyone’s expense, and nobody to stop them. The are as corrupt as they come in my book.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 11:46 am 16 Sep 08

Releasing more licences to be bought by the current market players just reinforces their position as owner of x% of the market, starts to devalue any previous investment in licences they may have had, until the market becomes saturated, and doesn’t encourage any new large-scale operators to enter the market and compete.

But also completely fails to address the problem.

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