Drivers fear it will be the death knell for taxis
TAXI services have shut down across regional NSW and in a blow for customers, more are likely to follow suit if new taxi licences are released by the State Government in country areas.
That's the position of the NSW Taxi Council which says new licenses won't mean better service it will simply force out long-time reliable operators with strong connections to the local community.
Calling for the Independent Pricing and Regulartory Tribunal's draft recommendations to be abandoned local drivers will on Thursday meet in Coffs Harbour to discuss the impact of changes to fares and licences from July.
Coffs Harbour Taxis and Hire Cars CEO Cathy Watt is calling on the community to show support for country taxis, who face more uncertainty in the wake of a draft government report.
"The market is already depleted in the country. I have been operating for years and I have never seen it like this. I can't afford to buy more licences, it's not worth it," Ms Watt said.
"If the government accepts this report it will be the big corporations or foreign investors who will buy up these licences, pushing out the little guys and end locally-owned services.
Ms Watt said IPART wants to release more taxi licences into country areas that will mark the death knell of country cabs.
"Those in the taxi industry around rural and regional NSW have seen a number of our friend's businesses close down - we just can't keep up with the inequities between us and our competition anymore,” she said.
"It will have an impact on our community from local mechanics, pubs and health services who rely on our business to your nanna and pop, school children and people with disabilities.
"We don't have many ridesharing apps or providers out here and the ones that do operate do so at their own convenience, providing transport only on weekends or special events.
She said the IPART changes will leave the community high and dry during non-peak times and weeknights.
"From midnight to dawn emergencies arise such as picking up victims of domestic violence, car breakdowns and people needing emergency trips to the hospital, taxis are always there to provide a service,” she said.
"We also help keep drink drivers off the road and encourage patrons of licenced venues to get home safely.
"This keeps the emergency services available to help others in need rather than applying strain or pressure to these already limited services in country areas.
"We ask the government not adopt this report. We want to remain viable. We want to work with government to do this but we need them to listen."
"IPART has a feedback period, with three hearings and a chance for the public to lodge a submission against this report. A submission can be as simple as writing a short letter.
"The NSW Taxi Council has put together a petition to the NSW Minister for Transport & Infrastructure, a copy of this is now in every taxi in country NSW.
"We are asking our passengers to sign this Petition which is simply asking the government to not adopt recommendations from this report.
"We are pleading with the government to not shut down more country cabs by adopting this report and ensure your local taxi service stays in business now and into the future," Ms Watt said.