Victoria Premier Denis Napthine
Victoria Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder
Taxi Reforms Drive Improvements For Customers And Drivers
Victor P Taffa
Victoria’s taxi industry is set for the biggest overhaul in its history, improving service for customers and working conditions for drivers, Premier Denis Napthine and Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder announced today.
Dr. Napthine said the reforms would revive the industry and help restore public confidence in taxi services.
“Our reforms will create a more flexible, responsive and innovative taxi industry that puts the customer first.” Dr. Napthine said.
“They will provide customers with higher quality, more reliable and safer services and ensure drivers are properly remunerated, trained and knowledgeable.”
Dr. Napthine said the government was supporting the majority of the recommendations of the comprehensive Taxi Industry Inquiry report.
Fundamental reforms include:
- Providing better conditions and pay for taxi drivers with a guaranteed 55 % of takings;
- Requiring new drivers in the metropolitan and urban zones to pass an independent ‘Knowledge Exam’ before being accredited;
- Providing better services for people with disability, through driver training and encouraging more accessible vehicles;
- Creating a four tier taxi zone system;
- Introducing new powers and functions for the Taxi Services Commission to better regulate industry participants from 1 July 2013.
The licensing system will also be improved by:
- Introducing annual prices for licences, which will be indexed;
- Setting these prices at levels that will relieve pressure on overheads and fares while mitigating the reduction of licence values for existing licence holders;
- Removing restrictions on the number of new taxi licences issued, with the Taxi Services Commission monitoring the impact;
- Removing restrictions and red tape on pre-booked hire car services to enable a more diverse range of services to be provided.
Mr. Mulder said measures to improve the fare structure would improve affordability and help address issues such as cab shortages, long waiting times, short trip refusal and airport overcrowding.
“Travel will be more affordable, with the fee for card payments slashed from 10 % to 5 % and changes to allow taxis to offer more flexible services such as share rides, discounted fares and set-route services.” Mr. Mulder said.
“A number of changes will address safety concerns raised by drivers and passengers.”
“Taxis will need to be fitted with duress alarms and GPS tracking, and best practice guidelines will be established for the operation of safe taxi ranks, including supervision, CCTV and management of rank space.”
Mr. Mulder said the reform package put the interests of customers first, and balanced the needs of drivers, operators and industry.
“While we have taken account of the interests of licence holders, we make no apology for the fact these reforms put the interests of customers first.” Mr. Mulder said.
“It will take time for the benefits of the reforms to be realised. Complete implementation of this package will take several years but we are acting decisively to deliver improvements as quickly as possible.”
“I am confident that the new structure where customers are the focus of the taxi industry will deliver significant improvements over the longer term, and the Government has taken steps to introduce legislation into Parliament immediately to give effect to some of the foundation reforms recommended by the inquiry.” Mr. Mulder said.
Mr. Mulder thanked Professor Allan Fels and his team for their work on the Taxi Industry Inquiry.
“Mr. Fels and his team did a tremendous job identifying improvements that would deliver real benefits for customers and I am pleased we can now get on with the job of implementing these reforms.” Mr. Mulder said.