Country cabbies looking to offload licences to immigrants

Hard times: NSW Taxi Council president Martin Rogers, here with Central West cab owner Greg Collin, has told of the desperate situation taxi owners find themselves in.
Hard times: NSW Taxi Council president Martin Rogers, here with Central West cab owner Greg Collin, has told of the desperate situation taxi owners find themselves in.

Country cab drivers are considering selling their taxi plates to immigrants as they look to escape the industry before more licences are released.

The NSW Taxi Council said it had received reports that desperate owners were looking for any way to offload their plates before they suffered even more financial hardship.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal is conducting an investigation into taxi fares and the number of licences from July.

IPART has proposed a 10 per cent increase in licences in regional NSW, adding around 145 cabs. However Central West taxi owners fear the increases will put them out of business.

They were vocally opposed to changes at an IPART hearing in Dubbo in February.

One regional taxi owner and driver, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were open to anything that would help them sell their licence.

“I know this sounds horrible, but I have already taken this massive loss on my taxi plates, and I am trying to pass some of it on to someone who might gain some benefit before the government devalues it even further. I’m just so desperate,” they said.

Another owner said she was shocked when a broker suggested she look to sell overseas but was now considering it.

“I just feel the government has left me no choice but to go down this avenue,” the woman said.

“Nobody is buying our plates. The government has made our plates unsellable.

“I want to just close down and cut my losses but I felt guilty because I know the community has already lost a taxi service not far from here, but this option means they will still have taxis.

“If we do sell them we hope the new owner will continue to provide the same service that we did.”

She said taxi operators offered more than just a basic transport service, particularly in country areas.

“We know our clients by name and know to check in on them if we haven’t heard from them in a while. Taxis operate differently out in the regions compared to the city.

“I just simply can’t afford to keep going. The changes that have happened the past few years haven’t just taken a financial toll on me, it’s taken an emotional and mental one too.

NSW Taxi Council CEO Martin Rogers said the stories showed how desperate the situation was that owners found themselves in.

The council has called on the government not to adopt the IPART report.