The first taxi plates were issued in NSW in 1930. The NSW Government controlled their operating conditions with licences, and the operation of most cabs was restricted to Central Railway Station and suburban railway stations. Ownership was restricted to one plate per person, who also had to drive, manage and control the taxi as their principal income.
From 1945, taxi licences were issued to returned members of the armed forces on a ballot basis - and today many of their widows or beneficiaries continue to own and operate these plates. This small business has supported many into self-funded retirement.
After World War II modern-day radio taxi networks emerged including, The De Luxe Cab Company (now Combined Communications Network), Legion Cabs, RSL Cabs, St George Cabs, Manly Warrringah Cabs, and Cumberland, Northern & Western Districts (now Premier Cabs).
During the 1970s, taxi licences were issued to operate in particular suburban localities and their owners had to live within 2km of their dedicated location. And in the 1980s, as a reward to long-serving taxi drivers, taxi licences were issued on a seniority basis.
Restricted licences were later converted to unrestricted licences and the requirement for owners to drive their own taxi was lifted. Multiple ownership was allowed and the NSW Government issued night time licences for night demand.
In 1981, the International Year of the Disabled, taxis NSW became the first branch of public transport to provide services for people in wheelchairs.
In the 1990s, mandatory training for taxi drivers was introduced; networks had to be authorised under the Passenger Transport Act 1990; and technological advances saw the introduction of electronic meters and in-vehicle EFTPOS machines, the GPS system and high-tech dispatch services, along with security measures. These innovations were all funded by the Industry to enhance service standards to customers and industry participants.
Consecutive State Governments have continued to recognise the contribution of the NSW Taxi Industry to transport and the economy, as well as the value stored in taxi plates which is key to attracting the investment which sustains the Industry. Today, the NSW Taxi Industry contributes $1.15b to the NSW economy each year, offers 17,500 full time equivalent jobs, and delivers $20m in revenue from plate sales and leases. More than $2b in private funds are invested in the NSW Taxi Industry - many have invested their payouts or superannuation upon retirement into these businesses and rely on the long-term viability to fund their lives and retirement.
Download History of NSW Taxis Fact Sheet.