Transport Matters understands that the taxi industry performs a vital social and community role. It is an integral part of Victoria’s essential services and public transport mix. Taxis play a key role in covering the transportation needs of the elderly and those with disability; and are often used for ‘first and last mile’ trips, that is the trip from home or work to the nearest public transport access point.
It is no longer acceptable for those in the taxi industry to work under a set of conditions that would be unacceptable to the vast majority of Victorians. We want to create an industry where driving a taxi is seen as a profession; a profession that drivers can be proud of and, more importantly, one where they can achieve a sustainable and fair income – whether their work is done as a driver/operator or drive for someone else.
Before the industry can move forward, we must address the appalling treatment by the Andrews’ Government of past taxi and hire car licence holders.
We must also recognise the impact on both the established drivers and new drivers entering the industry. We must tackle the irresponsible, uncontrolled release of Commercial Passenger Vehicle (CPV) licences into the Victorian market.
This uncontrolled release of these minimal cost licences has and continues to severely impact the already established drivers’ income. It has ruined many small businesses and made many other unviable; unfairly causing financial harm to thousands of Victorian families.
The taxi and hire car industries have been in a state of flux, since the Allan Fels’ Inquiry, the Andrews Government Taxi and Hire Car Ministerial Forum and it’s Ride Share Working Group. The Industry has had to endure a Parliamentary Inquiry and an Ombudsman Inquiry into the roll-out of the Fairness Fund and it continues.
The end result for all of these inquiries has amounted to nothing! Nothing but harm to people who simply did not deserve to be treated this way.
For these reasons, so many industry participants have lost confidence in Victorian State Governments.
TRANSPORT MATTERS SOLUTION
Transport Matters proposes a number of changes to address the past misdeeds, improve taxi driver income and move to a more environmentally sustainable taxi fleet.
Taxi and hire car licence Holders need to be fully compensated for the compulsory acquisition of their property (licences). This should be based on an independent valuation of the taxi and hire car licence plate market values, prior to Uber illegally entering the Victorian Transportation Market.
- All taxi licences should have the same value.
- All hire car licences should have the same value.
- These payments should not be means tested.
- The cost of this compensation would be funded by a yearly licence fee applied to Commercial Passenger Vehicles (CPV) replacing what is red tape that is inefficient and onerous on drivers ($1.00/trip Levy). This CPV licence fee could simply be applied to the cost of registration.
CATEGORIES OF COMMERCIAL PASSENGER VEHICLES
Transport Matters believes it is imperative that we keep the distinction between the traditional “HIRE CAR” and “TAXI” categories of Commercial Passenger Vehicles.
In keeping with this, we propose the addition of a new CPV category – namely “ON DEMAND VEHICLE” vehicles.
VEHICLE LICENCE CONDITIONS
The public has a right when booking a commercial passenger vehicle that is a taxi, hire car or on demand vehicle, that those vehicle’s meet a minimum standard of safety and road worthiness.
- Commercial passenger vehicles must meet a minimum ANCAP 5 Star safety rating
- When applying or renewing a commercial passenger vehicle licence you must supply a current road worthy certificate before a licence is issued
- When applying or renewing a commercial passenger vehicle licence you must supply proof of commercial vehicle insurance for the permit period
COMMERCIAL VEHICLE IDENTIFICATION
Transport Matters believes that all CPVs should be able to be instantly recognised as a CPV. The public have a right to know that they are getting into an accredited CPV and external identification is the best way to achieve this.
Taxis requires the following attributes:
- Branding (external signage) including the word TAXI
- Dome (world-wide recognition that the vehicle is a taxi)
- Meter (either physical or electronic)
- Safety Camera
- Stickers stating the calculation of fares, flagfall, etc.
Hire Cars should maintain the VHA – VHZ series of plates.
On Demand Vehicles should have permanent visible signage affixed to front and rear windscreens.
ELECTRIC AND HYBRID VEHICLES
The taxi industry has been leading the take up of hybrid vehicles. Transport Matters proposes that following the natural vehicle replacement process, from November 2022 it will be become a licence condition to replace vehicles with a hybrid or an a electric vehicle. Then from November 2026 as vehicles are replaced, we should be striving to move to an all electric fleet. We have no doubt that come those time frames there will be plenty of vehicle choice and at price points to meet these proposals.
The Federal and State Government must bring down the cost of electricity costs to encourage more generally the take up of electric vehicles.
As part of Victoria’s public transport mix we propose that the State Government should provide free charging points for all taxis which are hybrid or electric vehicles. This could be achieved by having rapid charging points on taxi ranks, taxi depots, shopping centres and at Melbourne Airport etc.
Taxis should be exempt from tolls. This would be beneficial to the travelling public by reducing the costs of taxi travel and would be beneficial to drivers to lower their operating costs.
State Government should renegotiate the very small discount that is currently given to taxi drivers by toll road operators.
Transurban has recently submitted a proposal to extend their existing Citilink contract by an additional 15 years. This would give Transurban billions of extra dollars in income over the term of their contract!
We propose that Transurban and East Link act as a good corporate citizen and reduce the cost of tolls by 50% to the Victorian taxi fleet.
The State Government should then pick up the cost of those tolls.
CPVV (Previously TSC)
The Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria Commissioners should include experienced representatives from the taxi, hire car and ride-share industries. There should also be a Commissioner with special focus on the public transport needs of those with a disability. The Chair of these Commissioners needs to be someone with significant political and industry experience.