Country taxi operators have today responded to the NSW Government’s industry reform plans by highlighting the importance of taxi services to local communities and calling for clarity on key reform measures to ensure the viability of taxi services into the future.
Taxi services are a vital public transport service for communities across NSW, particularly in rural and regional NSW, providing thousands of jobs and contributing millions of dollars each year to local economies.
NSW Taxi Council CEO Roy Wakelin-King said that despite some concerns about how the reforms will ensure the viability of local operators, there’s a strong commitment to making sure that country taxis will continue to meet the needs of their communities.
“There are several key areas of reform where there is insufficient detail available and until all information is forthcoming about how the government plans to ensure equal opportunity for all point to point service providers, that level of concern will remain,” Mr Wakelin-King said.
“These key areas include the structural adjustment package for taxi owners, industrial relations, equity on CTP insurance and the enforcement of the law under the reforms.
“In announcing the reforms, the Government highlighted plans to strictly enforce the exclusivity of rank and hail work for taxis and, as an industry, we need details on this measure so the rules are as clear as possible for all parties and enforceable without exception.”
As rank and hail services in country areas is a small proportion of taxi work in rural and regional communities, it is vitally important that these reforms do not undermine the ongoing viability of country taxi operators. This is why it is critical to ensure that these reforms create a genuine level playing field otherwise taxi businesses will be put at risk.
“Rogue hire car operators and touting by illegal operators who take advantage of loopholes and or break the law remain a significant concern for rural and regional taxi operators, as it not only represents a safety risk for the public, it also undermines a well regulated, legally compliant industry,” Mr Wakelin-King said.
Under changes announced in August 2015, the NSW Government prohibited country hire car operators from accepting bookings less than 30 minutes in advance of the time the service is required. Hire cars also must not advertise or issue any form of communication contradicting this rule, therefore providing clarity on what constitutes a ‘pre-booking’.
In light of the recent changes announced by the NSW Government, it is important to note that this law on hire cars remains unchanged.
The NSW Taxi Council will visit key regional centres throughout NSW in February 2016 to discuss the overall reforms with taxi owners and operators.