Customer v taxis: three strikes and out?

Victorian taxi operators Taxi Link, Cabways and Ambassador have adopted a new three strikes system of self regulation to improve standards in the industry.

The system will rely on in-cab stickers which customers can scan with their mobile phone to take an online survey.  Taxi drivers can recieve a strike for:

  • refusing short fares and being reported to the Victorian Taxi Directorate (VTD)
  • bad smells in the cab
  • dirty cabs, and
  • not knowing their way around Melbourne.

Three strikes and the taxi operator will no longer give the driver any shifts.  The driver would not be reported to the VTD, and may still be able to work for other operators not using the system.  However, the operator of Taxi Link, Harry Katsiabanis, has said he hasn’t ruled reporting to VTD out if it helps improve the industry.

This new attempt at self-regulation comes before a report by Professor Allan Fels, the Victorian taxi industry Commisioner, is due to be presented to the government.  Professor Fels labelled the self-regulation “a rather desperate last minute stunt just prior to our report being released”.

The taxi industry has opposed proposals likely to be included in Professor Fels’ report which include:

  • Slashing the cost of an individual licence from as much as $500,000 to about $300,000 and reduce rent on licences from $30,000 to $20,000.
  • Lifting restrictions on the number of cab licences available;
  • Allowing new players to rent a licence from the government for $20,000 a year with a five-year fixed term;
  • Increasing the cost of hailing a cab at weekends by 20 per cent;
  • Breaking the stranglehold of Silver Top and 13CABS by introducing more competition;
  • Switching driver training from taxi networks to an independent body;
  • A 60-40 driver operator fare split.

VTD spokesman Steve Bright said other taxi operators were seeking approval to display the in-cab survey sticker ahead of the State Government tabling Professor Fels’ final report in coming weeks.

Consumers gain something either way, whether through improvements in service via any government response to the Fel’s review or self regulation. Whether the industry response is enough to meet consumer’s needs remains to be seen. What do you think?


1 Comment on "Customer v taxis: three strikes and out?"

  1. Hi there,

    Just come back from Europe and realise we are here a third world country when it comes to quality of taxi transport. Most of the cars overseas are almost new, clean inside/outside and the drivers quite educated and elegant. For example I paid recently 50aud for a 30 min trip in Vienna _ brand new Mercedes, etc _ coming back to Brisbane paid $100 for ~the same distance _ dirty car, etc _ cannot even describe the difference. Pretty bad image for our visitors. Politicians should go for a ride and then come up with a quick fix. All the best. Seb

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