Taxi owners speak on industry

A SURVEY of 3,680 taxi drivers, taxi plate owners and industry representatives was finalised last week and its results are expected to heavily influence the Western Australian Government’s decision on a possible buy-back of the State’s 1,116 taxi plates.

The Department of Planning and Infrastructure received a 33 per cent return of surveys, or 1,217 responses, that will be collated to provide information to the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Alannah MacTiernan to base a decision on.

A Government decision is required by the end of June to meet the National Competition Council’s deadline to either make the WA taxi industry more competitive or lose part of the State’s $72 million NCC funding.

While the Taxi Council of Australia is up in arms over the proposed buy-back Ms MacTiernan has intimated that buying back taxi plates could soothe the National Competition Council’s calls for greater competition without having to deregulate the industry.

In a press statement made earlier this year she said the Government was wary of facing the same effects of deregulation that hit the Northern Territory’s taxi industry.

“Both vehicle standards and driver behaviour are said to have deteriorated and we are told returns for drivers have dropped dramatically,” Ms MacTiernan said.

“However, we are required to respond. The NCC has the capacity to withhold productivity payments from the State if we do not act.

“We are looking very closely at the idea of a buy-back of taxi plates, but the issue needs to be examined in terms of fair buy-back prices and industry regulation after a buy-back, while making sure that service levels and returns to drivers are improved.”

The Taxi Council of Western Australia has voiced strong opposition to any buyback moves from Government.

Taxi Council of Western Australia chief executive Joanna Ammon said the taxi industry in WA was very healthy and did not require wholesale changes.

“I can not understand how the Government can honestly say that passengers and drivers are losing out under the current ‘non-viable’ system and this is why reform is needed,” she said.

“The taxi industry’s performance is monitored by the Government and has recorded growth and a very high level of customer satisfaction, safety, and efficiency, so what is the problem?”

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