COMMENT: Is this the end of the country cab?

Country taxis face uncertainty in the wake of a draft government report. The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) wants to release more taxi licences into country areas – a move regional taxi drivers fear could mark the death knell of country cabs.

While Bega Taxi Service operator John Byers shared his views with us for today’s lead, the issue spreads far and wide, with Batemans Bay taxi operator Steven Hockey penning the below appeal.

“The market is already depleted in the country. I have been operating for years and I have never seen it like this. I can’t afford to buy more licences, it’s not worth it.

If the government accepts this report it will be the big corporations or foreign investors who will buy up these licences, pushing out the little guys and end locally-owned services. Those in the taxi industry around rural and regional NSW have seen a number of our friend’s businesses close down - we just can’t keep up with the inequities between us and our competition anymore.

It will have an impact on our community from local mechanics, pubs and health services who rely on our business to your nanna and pop, school children and people with disabilities.

We don’t have many ride-sharing apps or providers out here and the ones that do operate do so at their own convenience, providing transport only on weekends or special events. 

This will leave the community high and dry during non-peak times and weeknights. We are the only transport service to operate and be on call on a 24/7 basis.

From midnight to dawn emergencies arise, such as picking up victims of domestic violence, car breakdowns and people needing trips to the hospital. 

We also help keep drink drivers off the road and encourage patrons of licenced venues to get home safely.

We ask the government not adopt this report. We want to remain viable. We want to work with government to do this but we need them to listen.

IPART has a feedback period, with three hearings and a chance for the public to lodge a submission against this report. A submission can be as simple as writing a short letter.

The NSW Taxi Council has drafted a petition to the NSW Minister for Transport and Infrastructure; a copy is in every taxi in country NSW. We are asking our passengers to sign.”                                     - Steven Hockey

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