Taxi Overhaul to Benefit People with Disability
28 May 2013 at 12:35 pm
Victoria’s taxi industry is set for a major overhaul, including the promise of better services for people with disability.
Premier Dr Denis Napthine and Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder have announced a raft of taxi reforms the Government says will revive the industry and help restore public confidence in taxi services.
In terms of services for people with disability the Government says its reforms include the introduction of more accessible vehicles and the boosting of driver training.
“The Taxi Services Commission, in consultation with stakeholders, will also begin development work for a new central booking service in metro areas to reduce wait times and provide more accurate booking information,” the Premier said.
“Our reforms will create a more flexible, responsive and innovative taxi industry that puts the customer first.
“They will provide customers with higher quality, more reliable and safer services and ensure drivers are properly remunerated, trained and knowledgeable.”
The Government’s response also includes $3 million for Wheelchair Accessible Taxis, with a subsidy of up to $44,000 for a new or replacement Wheelchair Accessible Taxi for taxi operators in regional or country zones.
Premier Napthine said the Government was supporting the majority of the recommendations of the comprehensive Taxi Industry Inquiry report.
The Government has also announced that Graeme Samuel AC has been appointed as Chair of the new Taxi Services Commission from July, 1 2013 to drive the reforms.
Premier Napthine said Samuel was well known for his longstanding and respected role as chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission from 2003 to 2011.
The Victorian Government reforms include:
- Providing better conditions and pay for taxi drivers with a guaranteed 55 per cent of takings;
- Requiring new drivers in the metropolitan and urban zones to pass an independent ‘knowledge exam’ before being accredited;
- Providing better services for people with disability, through driver training and encouraging more accessible vehicles;
- Creating a four tier taxi zone system; and
- Introducing new powers and functions for the Taxi Services Commission to better regulate industry participants from 1 July 2013.
The Government said measures to improve the fare structure would improve affordability and help address issues such as cab shortages, long waiting times, short trip refusal and airport overcrowding.
“Travel will be more affordable, with the fee for card payments slashed from 10 per cent to 5 per cent and changes to allow taxis to offer more flexible services such as share rides, discounted fares and set-route services,” Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder said.
“A number of changes will address safety concerns raised by drivers and passengers.
“Taxis will need to be fitted with duress alarms and GPS tracking, and best practice guidelines will be established for the operation of safe taxi ranks, including supervision, CCTV and management of rank space.”
Mulder said the reform package put the interests of customers first, and balanced the needs of drivers, operators and industry.
“While we have taken account of the interests of licence holders, we make no apology for the fact these reforms put the interests of customers first,” he said.
“It will take time for the benefits of the reforms to be realised. Complete implementation of this package will take several years but we are acting decisively to deliver improvements as quickly as possible.
“I am confident that the new structure – where customers are the focus of the taxi industry – will deliver significant improvements over the longer term, and the Government has taken steps to introduce legislation into Parliament immediately to give effect to some of the foundation reforms recommended by the inquiry.”
The Victorian Government Response to the Taxi Industry Inquiry can be download here.