Western Australia Minister for Transport Troy Buswell
Demerit Point System, Probation And Better Training For Taxi Drivers
Victor P Taffa
Recalcitrant taxi drivers would have their taxi licences suspended under a proposed new demerit point system to raise industry standards.
Transport Minister Troy Buswell said the new system, which is part of the State Government’s Taxi Action Plan, will also include a probationary period for new drivers and more thorough entry and training requirements.
“A demerit system will provide a mechanism for the Department of Transport to identify, discipline and weed out drivers who cannot meet the acceptable standards.” Mr. Buswell said.
“Each taxi driver will accrue points for unacceptable behaviour, which will be categorised according to severity, leading to a suspension of their Taxi Driver ID card for a period of time if they accrue 12 points.”
“New drivers will be disciplined if they accrue six points, to ensure those new to the industry are focused on meeting the standards they are expected to maintain over the course of their taxi-driving career.”
The Minister said the Government would engage with the industry on the details of the new demerit system and its implementation. The proposed changes may require legislative change.
“This new system provides the framework we need to improve the standards of the taxi industry, and now we will talk to the industry about what type of behaviour may constitute mild, moderate and severe offences and the number of points allocated for each type of offence.” Mr. Buswell said.
“I expect this demerit system would deal with a range of behaviour from those drivers who refuse short-distance fares, to those who refuse passengers with guide dogs.”
The new system will be enforced by the Department of Transport, with compliance officers to investigate customer complaints and carry out random inspections.
Criminal offences will continue to result in the suspension of the ‘T extension’, as is presently the case.
While the new National Minimum English Standard (NMES) and National Taxi Driver Qualifications (NTDQ) were implemented in mid-2010 and apply to all new taxi industry entrants, Mr Buswell said there would be further strengthening of entry and training requirements.
“Currently we have a situation where some people repeatedly sit the Taxi Driver Registration Test, at no charge, until they pass, which makes a mockery of the importance of this test.” Mr. Buswell said.
“We will be changing regulations to allow a charge to be imposed for each time a person sits this test.”
“Also, once a driver is granted their licence, a mentoring system will be developed, where candidates are required to spend two full days with an experienced driver.” Mr. Buswell said.
Today’s announcement follows the recent announcement of the immediate release of 30 full-time Government lease taxi plates, and potential further release of up to 300 plates as required to meet performance standards.
“At the same time as we are addressing the availability issue affecting the taxi industry, we are implementing a number of measures to ensure any new drivers entering the industry, as well as those current drivers, meet the appropriate standard of behaviour and service.” the Minister said.