RISING fuel and insurance prices, and a proposed fare freeze are making life hard for taxi drivers, according to NSW Taxi Council chief executive officer Roy Wakelin-King.
Mr Wakelin-King visited Orange on Wednesday to talk to taxi drivers about the challenges facing the industry, as well as draft recommendations by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) to ban fare increases for the second year in a row.
Mr Wakelin-King said the fare freeze would impact drivers in country NSW at a time when they were struggling to pay a $1000 increase in third-party insurance, which was introduced in the past 12 months.
“The taxi industry has always accepted that fares need to be set at a level that balances the needs of customers and the sustainability of owning, operating and driving a cab,” he said.
“These recommendations will not achieve that aim. Taxis are the only form of public transport that is privately funded and the costs of operating a taxi such as LPG and insurance keep going up.
“About 95 per cent of owners are small business people and families.”
Mr Wakelin-King said IPART was also looking at allocating more taxi licenses.
“I think there are plenty of cabs on the road, so really it’s about using cabs more effectively,” he said.
“Customers in Orange only have to wait an average of four minutes for a taxi and I think that’s a pretty quick response time.”
Mr Wakelin-King says taxi drivers strive to provide a good service, no matter what the economic climate is like.
“Orange taxi drivers have suffered a bit of a decline in the number of people travelling,” he said.
But, he said taxi driving was still a great profession.
“Like anything, being a taxi driver has its ups and downs, but a lot of people enjoy doing it,” he said.