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On 2am taxis

By johnboy - 28 June 2009 40

Last night I was leaving Civic at 2am, which means I’d already made some mistakes.

Looking at the line for taxis my first instinct was to just walk home.

But for reporting purposes I decided to give it a go.

And for a piece of civic infratructure relied on by thousands of Canberrans every week it truly is a disgrace.

One has to wonder that if it wasn’t being used by mostly young drunks at 2am something more would have been done long ago.

For a start it was raining lightly, and the line is uncovered.

While there was a little man in high visibility gear trying to organise proceedings he was overwhelmed by both the poor behaviour of tired drunks, and the logistics involved.

People couldn’t actually get into the taxis fast enough at the front of line, which meant there was a queue of people wanting taxis standing next to a queue of taxis waiting for passengers.

As the rain started to fall harder some enterprising souls just jumped into the taxi in front of them. Which is fine except that people who were further up the line and had been queueing for 10 minutes in the rain didn’t like this very much.

Short tempers, line jumping, tired people, loads of booze, it is a recipe for serious disaster.

The basic problem is having a single point of dispatch, which concentrates all the issues.

Just a thought but why not use all of the bus interchange and have the man in the high visibility gear direct taxis rather than people?

Separate ranks for South, North, and West would help people pool, using the taxis more efficiently. The divided queues would be small enough that people could fit under the bus shelters, and by splitting the crowd up the chances of tempers building would be significantly reduced.

Just a thought, if anyone in power cares.

What’s Your opinion?


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On 2am taxis
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BerraBoy68 4:48 pm 17 Jul 09

Jim Jones said :

Back when I was younger, I used to spend my cab money on shots and then just take the ambulance home.

First time I laughed out loud today. Thanx JJ!

Jim Jones 3:49 pm 17 Jul 09

Back when I was younger, I used to spend my cab money on shots and then just take the ambulance home.

Good times.

peterh 2:55 pm 17 Jul 09

back when i was younger and actually drank, I walked from the pub to my home regularly. I lived in belconnen, drank at the horse, and staggered home. Moved to watson, drank in civic, staggered home. moved to tuggeranong, drank at the burns and kambah inn, staggered home. The difference was that I either caught the bus to the drinking hole, or walked. The car was always locked up in the garage, I never thought to take it, and I usually had no money by home time – who can catch a taxi with no money? I have events that i attend that put me out in civic at 2am. I will call the cabexpress people, they come to a designated pickup point, and i go home, no fights, no chundering drunks, no problems.

oh, and #36, the difference in cost between a taxi driver who knows canberra and someone who doesn’t, relying on the inebriated passenger, can often be very high. some drivers think they can fool a tourist into a larger fare, but they aren’t the older drivers, they are new and don’t get customer service… or my business.

RAGD 1:35 pm 17 Jul 09

All good ideas in theory JB, but I think in reality it might be a little more difficult.

1.) You will have to find Bus drivers that wanted to work crazy hours for not much reward. Taxi drivers usually get paid half of what ever they take in on a night. If they do $500 a night, they get $250 of that. Good incentive for dealing with drunk passengers, but for a bus driver?
2.) Who is going to deal with 50 drunk Passengers on a bus? The potential for things to turn nasty in a confined space is immense.
3.) If you had different queues for different areas, you will have to police the taxi drivers as well. I reckon some taxi drivers would be selectively choosing better fares. ie, Going down to Tuggies from Civic, would be heaps better than going from Civic to Dickson. There will be some queues that wouldn’t move then you would have people jumping into other queues , getting angry they are not being serviced, etc.

I don’t necessarily have better ideas, I am just thinking from another angle.

dtt123 1:06 pm 17 Jul 09

there are no new taxi companies in canberra…elite and silver service operate out of the same radio base in fyshwick, through the company called “Arial Capital Group”, which also has a dabble in the telcoms bussiness.

all taxi fares in canberra are the same, cabxpress or other wise.

peterh 11:33 am 29 Jun 09

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy said :

How long have you been working for them Peter?

VY, I worked for one of the owners who set them up. I don’t anymore. In fact, i stopped long before Cab express were established. I just like the idea of being able to speak to a human being when booking cabs for my exec management when they are in canberra. makes it easier to understand the timeframe between booking and pickup.

as the “new” companies appear in canberra, elite, silver service etc, it is nice to have an actual competitor to the aerial monopoly.

el 11:32 am 29 Jun 09

+1 for CabXpress. Always use them now, especially for airport bookings.

ant 11:14 am 29 Jun 09

Cab Express tends to get quite a loyal fan base of customers, putting up with Aerial and their offshoots for years makes people appreciative of a normal taxi service like Cab Express.

How long have you been working for them Peter?

peterh 9:24 am 29 Jun 09

I don’t wait at the queue from hell, on the rare occasions when i have been drinking. I have a mobile phone, and i don’t waste time calling canberra cabs – Cab express have my business, the staff are extremely helpful, and in my addled state, a human being is far better to discuss my needs with, rather than an automated system. The pickup site is usually somewhere easy to get to, and I am never treated as easy pickings by the driver.

I have driven and jockeyed in canberra for a taxi owner, i have seen some terrible behavior by drivers, sometimes unjustified, but cabexpress are a shining example of a new company trying to provide customer service to canberrans. It also seems that they are cheaper.

Whenever the lads get together to enjoy a few, we always have a plan for how we are getting home. This plan rarely involves taxis.

johnboy 10:42 pm 28 Jun 09

The thing with night buses is that it takes years of consistent service for them to build as an institution.

(the same can be said of any bus service)

Ian 10:39 pm 28 Jun 09

#23 – those costs struck me as very low. I did a bit of googling and found this: http://www.hansard.act.gov.au/hansard/2009/week04/1501.htm

According to that, the non-NYE nights cost ACTION just under $7k each, so 104 of those a year is more like $700k. Not sure if thats gross or net of revenue but even if its gross the revenue is pretty dismal – most nights there were about 150 pax total so about $750 or around 11% of the cost. Even on NYE there were only 1200 pax so even then only about half the cost was covered.

Still, even at $700k it could be argued this is a worthwhile investment and serves at least to get some drunks home safely and conveniently and helps somewhat with the queueing problems at the taxi rank. Would be even better if the buses were full, or even somewhere near half full.

Heres a novel idea. Levy the pubs and clubs in Civic a significant contribution towards the cost of providing adequate transport home. Make it a condition of having a liquor license extending past the end of normal public transport services. They then pass it onto their customers. User pays, simple – and the more you drink the more you pay.

Deadmandrinking 10:34 pm 28 Jun 09

Sorry, sweetcakes, I was born here, I got family here, I’m gonna come back whenever I like 🙂

‘Us Locals’, like me, appreciate better services from the government they pay tax to. An effort like JB suggested would make nights out on the town a lot safer for everyone, as well as making the roads safer with less people thinking ‘screw it, I’ll drive’ after an hour of waiting and saving our cabbies precious time and money.

vg 8:25 pm 28 Jun 09

Deadmandrinking said :

rosebud said :

It’s like Canberra doesn’t really want people to live here at all sometimes. It’s a message: come here and work only. Then go away.

That’s my plan…screw this city for anything other than easy to get employment…

Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.

Its people like you us locals prefer elsewhere

sexynotsmart 6:51 pm 28 Jun 09

(Rubs chin wistfully) Some years ago when I first came to Canberra, I remember queuing for cabs outside Academy.

Then one enchanted evening, I met a delightful young lady who walked me to the CopShop. She dialled for a cab and it arrived literally within minutes of the call.

The next Saturday I tried it myself, but the cab radio/telephone dude told me to go to a rank. And some months later (I had met the ball-and-chain by then) I asked LoveBumps to give it a go – magically, the cab arrived.

I think it was the combination of female voice asking for a cab from the Civic Watch House. It must get you on some sort of priority queue. I’m not sure if it still works. Will have to give it a go next SUMMER.

ahappychappy 5:36 pm 28 Jun 09

dvaey said :

Considering the difference this would have on drink driving, and violence in the city, surely NRMA or the AFP can sponsor it a little. Probably better value than putting stupid ‘police targeting mobile phone users’ ads on the radio anyway. Dont just tell people drink driving is bad, give them a convenient alternative to driving their car home.

+1 – but surely those figures cannot be right… thousands of people would be jumping on those buses on a Saturday night at $5 a pop…

No-one in their right mind would spend $50 to get a cab over jumping on a bus for $5 which would be more entertaining anyway? Some of the best times I’ve had in the city have been on those night rider buses (sad I know…) but there is always some sort of entertainment.

dvaey 5:16 pm 28 Jun 09

A quick google, shows this issue (and the lack of a good bus service) has been on the governments mind for many years, even having had at least one RA thread on it in the past. Last year the Liberals released a document ‘Valuing Young People’ where the issue of late night transport was raised. The document suggests that the Night Rider service could be implemented for ‘approximately $120,000 per annum’ with a budgeted revenue of $40,000.

Considering the difference this would have on drink driving, and violence in the city, surely NRMA or the AFP can sponsor it a little. Probably better value than putting stupid ‘police targeting mobile phone users’ ads on the radio anyway. Dont just tell people drink driving is bad, give them a convenient alternative to driving their car home.

Hells_Bells74 4:58 pm 28 Jun 09

It’s nasty! Barely any of my going out crowd will go anywhere near it (specially the gay friends).. But I’ve used it on odd occasion and found the only plus side it ended up being quite a good ‘picking up’ line for me lol or just some interesting conversations or such.

In my times there when the police are attending it, the crowd gets more revved up or they just drive by looking a little smug.

I even had my son’s formerly Melbourne drunk dad when he lived here attack me verbally and then he threw a butter knife above my head in bed (made a lasting hole) all because I had dared to make him go in that taxi line, I should’ve known better than to make him do it (like I knew lol). We didn’t last much longer anyhow.

Deadmandrinking 4:43 pm 28 Jun 09

rosebud said :

It’s like Canberra doesn’t really want people to live here at all sometimes. It’s a message: come here and work only. Then go away.

That’s my plan…screw this city for anything other than easy to get employment…

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