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Taxi Talk magazine July 2016 edition

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TAXI TALK JULY 2016 ISSUE NO 577 VOICE OF THE TAXI INDUSTRY Australia’s premier independent taxi industry magazine VOICE OF THE TAXI INDUSTRY MELBOURNE DOCKLANDS IN WINTER Free Friday night Fireworks in July - 7:30pm Take a flight on the Melbourne Star and enjoy the spectacular light show at Docklands’ fireworks display! If you are feeling peckish, warm up with a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants and bars along the Docklands waterfront before or after the show. TAXI MAGAZINE ON THE RANKS SINCE 1966 PROUDLY PUBLISHED AND PRINTED IN MELBOURNE Print Post Approved number 100004912 celebr YEARS THE VOICE OF THE VICTORIAN TAXI INDUSTRY a tin g


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Contents WHAT ABOUT CONSUMERS? TAXI Toni F. Peters VOICE OF THE TAXI INDUSTRY MAGAZINE ON THE RANKS SINCE 1966 6 ESC FARE REVIEW FAIR? 10 18 32 MAGAZINE EDITOR FOUNDER Stanley F. White PUBLISHER Trade Promotions Pty Ltd Without the Taxi User there will be no Taxi Industry. Is the ESC fare review outcome, truly reflective of today’s costs? ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES Mrs Toni Peters Trade Promotions Pty Ltd PO Box 2345, Mt Waverley VIC 3149 Phone: ....................................... 0400 137 866 Email: ............................. Website: .......................... LICENCE STATISTICS 17 WHERE IT BEGAN DISPLAY ADS Monthly Victorian taxi and hire car licence comparison. A look at the history of the formation of the VTHF. All copy, editorial and artwork must be submitted by the 15th of the month prior to publication date. Advertisement sizes and costs can be downloaded at OVERSEAS NEWS 20 CLASSIFIED ADS $35 for 40 words, $70 for 80 words, etc. Email or Mail your classified advertisement by the 15th of the month prior to publication date, together with your payment. GOVERNMENT UPDATE SUBSCRIPTION DETAILS 1 year = $40 Reports on what is happening in taxi industries around the world. Views expressed in any article in Taxi Talk magazine are those of the individual contributor and not necessarily those of the publisher. The publisher cannot accept any responsibility for any opinions, information, errors or omissions in this publication. To the extent permitted by law, the publisher will not be liable for any damages including special, exemplary, punitive or consequential damages (including but not limited to economic loss or loss of profit or revenue or loss of opportunity) or indirect loss or damage of any kind arising from the contract, tort or otherwise, even if advised of the possibility of such loss of profits or damage. Advertisements must comply with the relevant provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. Responsibility for compliance with the Act rests with the person, company or advertising agency submitting the advertisement. Taxi Talk magazine has agreed to advertise taxi clubs because those clubs have stated that they and their products comply with all applicable laws and regulations relating to insurance for taxi operators. Update from the Taxi Services Commission on issues effecting the industry. Taxi Talk magazine has not independently verified these taxi clubs’ compliance, and give no warranty and make no representation as to whether the taxi clubs are compliant. Operators should satisfy themselves as to a taxi club’s compliance with laws and regulations through their own enquiries. These advertisements do not constitute recommendations by Taxi Talk magazine that operators purchase insurance products from taxi clubs. Taxi Talk magazine does not accept any liability or responsibility for any loss or damage suffered or incurred by any operator because a taxi club or its product or service is non-compliant. Taxi Talk magazine is wholly owned by Trade Promotions Pty Ltd. COPYRIGHT © Trade Promotions Pty Ltd 2015. All rights reserved. The “Taxi Talk – Voice of the taxi industry” heading and logos are trademarks of Stanley F. White. Copyright of articles and photographs of Taxi Talk magazine remain with the individual contributors and may not be reproduced without permission. PAYMENT OPTIONS • • Via PAYPAL to Direct Deposit to Trade Promotions Pty Ltd BSB 033065 A/c 312786 Mail Cheque to Trade Promotions Pty Ltd PO Box 2345, Mt Waverley VIC 3149 • proudly supporting these organisations since inception..... July 2016 |3


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editor’s desk The Victorian government has dealt with Section 159 of the Victorian Transport Act, which, as a result of the recent County Court decision, brought into question the power of the Taxi Services Commission (TSC) to enforce taxi and hire car regulations. The most serious implication of this potential loophole was that the regulator (in this case the TSC) may not have the power to prevent drivers convicted of serious criminal offences, including sexual offences, from driving a taxi or hire car. Section 159 has been part of the Transport Act for decades and has existed through Governments of both persuasions and the 2011 Taxi Industry Inquiry. The government has removed it. So, that has plugged up that loophole. The recent taxi industry fare review undertaken by the Essential Services Commission achieved very little. Not one iota was given to the Victorian taxi drivers and operators - even though the cost of living and CPI had increased in the last 2 years. Apparently because the lpg price has decreased, that is sufficient and the taxi metered fares don’t need to keep in line with the rest of the economy. And so we now come to the bill that Sex Party member, Ms Fiona Patten has put together and was to present to parliament last month. But, just before she did so, the government decided it is time to make a ruling on ride-sharing in Victoria and they are going to work with Ms Patten to fine-tune the bill. The current proposed bill caters for stringent police checks on ride-sharing drivers, date for oldest age of vehicles together with supply and display of driver’s photo and name. What it doesn’t cater for is our wheelchair travelling public and, perhaps, some compensation to our current taxi licence holders. Minister for Transport Jacinta Allan has said potential compensation for taxi licence owners should be treated on a case-by-case basis, and she wanted a level playing field for all hire cars. So she is going to review the Sex Party’s proposed bill during Victorian Parliament’s six week winter break, with a view to presenting an updated, more detailed and all encompassing bill to parliament in August 2016. All being well we should see some action being implemented by Christmas this year. Cabcharge has sold their three storey Sydney headquarters building in Darlinghurst, to an Asian group for just over $18 million. They will lease back the building for at least 2 years from the new owners. Some say that they are cashing in on the residential property boom. Others think they have sold it as they are off-loading assets due to the financial pressure they are facing from the likes of Uber. Either way, $18 million is nothing to be sneezed at. from THE TAXI VOICE OF THE TAXI INDUSTRY MAGAZINE ON THE RANKS SINCE 1966 PROUDLY PUBLISHED AND PRINTED IN MELBOURNE 4 | July 2016 YEARS Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry


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In South Australia from July 1, Uber will be allowed to operate. It is expected that a $1 levy will be imposed by drivers on all metro trips for all passengers of all services, and drivers will have to pay $50 per week for a maximum of 11 months. This in turn, will go towards some compensation to licence holders affected by legalising Uber. Every South Australian taxi licence holder will also receive compensation to the value of $30,000. In NSW last month the Point to Point Transport (Taxi & Hire Vehicle) Bill, 2016 passed the NSW Parliament. Taxi licence plate owners will be compensated from the $250 million pool that will be created from the $1 trip levy. Former Transport Workers Union official Daniel Mookhey, who is now an MP , is proposing that the NSW Industrial Relations Commission is given the power to set the minimum conditions for Uber drivers, such as sick leave, superannuation and annual leave. His proposal includes enforcement of salary arrangements for taxi and ride-share drivers. So here we are, once again dis- puting whether taxi drivers (and now ride-share drivers/partners) are employees or contractors, and whether they are entitled to annual and sick leave. Over in Western Australia it is not much different to the rest of the country. Taxi drivers are complaining their business has fallen dramatically and the value of licence plates has dropped since the arrival of ride-sharing operations in their State. Mr Edman, a Western Australian Liberal MP , is encouraging the members of the WA taxi industry to stop whinging and get out there and do something. “The taxi industry has revolutionised the way you can get a cab but the majority of people wouldn’t know,” he said. “They [the taxi industry] just want to complain, they are upset and they want someone to do something about it - which is fair enough - but why can’t they also help themselves?” “Perhaps they ought to get off their backsides, get out there, grab some of the market back and let people in Western Australia know these apps are available and are just as good as Uber,” Mr Edman continued. In the north of Australia in sunny Queensland, Uber has been accused of disrespecting the Queensland government and an independent ride-sharing review, by announcing a new service to compete with high occupancy taxis. They are launching UberXL - a new service providing vehicles that can carry up to six passengers and they claim it will be 30 per cent cheaper than a traditional maxi-taxi. The Queensland taskforce’s chairman, Jim Varghese, has said the ride-sharing review is also looking at linking taxis to public transport networks to help drivers maintain revenue in the face of the increased competition from Uber. The taskforce findings are to be completed and released in July. What a busy month July is for all within the Australian taxi industries. Let’s hope some of the decisions made are the right ones. Toni Peters Editor TT DO YOU HAVE... Advertise in Voice of the Victorian Taxi Industry • • • something to sell? a service to offer? a new product? TAXI TALK Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry Contact Toni Peters on M 0400 137 866 | E YEARS July 2016 |5


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What about consumers? It seems that the interests of consumers get very little real attention when it comes to discussions concerning the Taxi Industry. This could be due to the fact that certain players and decision makers do not understand who the consumer in the taxi industry is, or that self-interest reigns supreme and takes preference over all else. So, let’s have a look at what constitutes a consumer in the taxi industry. The obvious consumer is naturally the taxi user and he is the most important part of the taxi industry. Nevertheless I will still state the bleeding obvious: Yet all these interest groups are advocating that fares should be deregulated or, what is even more despicable, in Uber’s case where they defy the law, charge whatever they like. “without the Taxi User there will be no Taxi Industry”. The other not so obvious consumer is the taxi (driver and car). This is not always as clear as it should be, because the taxi is both the supplier to the taxi user and the consumer with regard to taxi bookings. The role of the taxi is very often confused by issues of licence values and licence leases, which do not influence the maximum fare structure, and should therefore be irrelevant in the discussion. There can be no doubt about the fact that neither the Network Service Providers nor the various suppliers of apps, including Uber, are able or even willing to provide the service to the taxi user. It should be noted that neither the radio networks nor any of the providers of apps own any cars for transporting people or are responsible for any of the costs associated with the running of these vehicles. What do the radio networks and all the other providers of apps (including Uber) have in common and where do they differ? All of them use a driver and a car (the transport service provider) to transport people from point A to B for a monetary reward. So it becomes quite obvious that the term ‘Rideshare’ is inappropriate and misleading. Now the question is what service do these companies provide and who are their customers? It is at this point where Uber and some other suppliers of apps diverge from the radio networks. Uber sends a car and driver to transport people from A to B and charges the passenger an amount of money that is calculated using time and distance. Furthermore it uses an algorithm to determine a loading based on the availability of car and driver, where and when it feels like it. 6 | July 2016 YEARS Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry


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We can see that in this case the passenger is clearly a customer of Uber and not a customer of the driver of the car. Uber collects the money from the customer and then determines how much it gives to the driver of the car. This means that the driver has no control over the amount of money charged or over the amount paid to him by Uber. taxi business people in and Australia? Victoria A few more words have to be said with regard to the Network Service Providers. They are at the moment providing a service to the taxi industry by bringing the passenger and the taxi together. It is also quite clear that the radio networks would like to have greater control over the industry, but this could be a dangerous game to play. How would they feel if they were classified as employers? Let us all hope that the Victorian Government does not change, but uphold our laws, rather than giving into an American bully that treats our laws with total disdain. Hans Altoff Taxi Owner / Operator TT This seems to have all the trademarks of an employer/employee relationship and using fanciful words to describe another relationship does not change the facts. Uber might still be able to overcome the employer hurdle by the sheer weight of money. They take on the world and are on a path of colonising countries, not by the use of canons and armoury, but by money and deception. They make their own laws and enslave the workforce like the old colonialists did. Where is our democracy when the interests and profits of big foreign tech companies are put ahead of the interest of thousands of small The Network Service Providers are paid by the taxi industry and the taxi industry is their only paying customer. AMS LAW Serving the Taxi Industry for over 30 years We practice as Business, Commercial, Conveyancing, Estate Planning, Family, Litigation, Probate, Superannuation, Taxation ADAMS MAGUIRE SIER 176 Upper Heidelberg Road, Ivanhoe 3079 Email: | Phone: 9497 2622 LAWYERS Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry YEARS July 2016 |7


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Taximeter world first Schmidt Electronic Laboratories has scored two ‘world first’ technology breakthroughs with its new G5 Taximeter, soon to be released. “Our unique self-calibrating technolThe G5 is the first ogy means that operators will no longer need to get their taximeters recalibrated taximeter in the at workshops. The G5 will calibrate itself world to be fully selffully automatically whenever needed. Manual calibration will be a thing of the calibrating, meaning past. This feature will save operators that it continuously both valuable time and money”, said Gary Schmidt, CEO and Chief Engineer. checks its accuracy In another world first for and recalibrates itself whenever required, for Schmidt Taximeters, the G5 will completely eliminate offexample, whenever meter fares using ultrasonic the tyres are changed passenger detection or a transmission technology. or differential box is It’s common knowledge that many drivers take off-meter fares which reswapped out. duce the operator’s income. The optional Passenger Detection System starts a fare whenever a passenger occupies a seat in the taxi and the taxi begins to move. While a passenger is in the taxi, fares cannot be stopped until the taxi becomes stationary. “Many of our taxi operator customers believe that as much as 10% of revenue is lost every year due to offmeter fares”, said Mr. Schmidt. “That could mean lost revenue of about $15,000 per annum per taxi, or lost operator profit of about $7000 every year per taxi. Our new G5 Taximeter could pay for itself many times over every year,” he added. The new G5 Taximeter incorporates many other novel features. Operators can control the operation of the G5 via secure log-in to the G5 website and can customise the data which drivers key into the taximeter at the end of shifts. They can customise the data uploaded from the taximeter, control the operation of the Passenger Detection System and even enable or disable the starting of fares. Operators can access comprehensive shift reports online, get details on every fare taken, compare drivers and vehicles and generate customised financial reports. The G5 Taximeter incorporates the largest LCD display in the Australian taximeter industry. Its 159mm x 86mm size means that the display digits are large and bright for easy readability, with separate “day” and “night” views for driver and passenger comfort. The G5 features automated road tolling and airport fees, secure wireless updates for rate changes and software upgrades, 9 serial ports and an expandable USB port for connectivity and numerous other features. Schmidt is one of the world’s most famous names in taximeters. They are sold all over Australia and to numerous countries overseas. To download a detailed brochure visit TT 8 | July 2016 YEARS Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry


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Schmidt G5 Taximeter 01 $ TARIFF TOLLS Schmidt G5 $ CITYLINK 5.10 Tap to Pause or Hold to Total 48.50 $ FARE Tap to Add SN 123456 2.00 EXTRAS Day View DAY • HIRED Keep control of your business • Fully automatic self-calibration - World’s first self-calibrating taximeter. - Recalibrates itself automatically whenever required e.g. when you change tyres. - No need to visit a dealer for calibration, saving you time and money. • Eliminates off-meter fares and could pay for itself many times over every year - World’s first taximeter with optional ultrasonic passenger detection - Keeps the fare running whenever a passenger is riding in your taxi • Prevent other parties from owning your confidential income data and putting your privacy at risk • Control your taximeter via secure website log-in Schmidt Electronic Laboratories Pty Ltd Trusted by thousands of taxi operators & drivers for more than 35 years Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry Phone (03) 9546 6990 or 1300 132 422 | Email | Website July 2016 Address 153 Osborne Avenue, Clayton South, VIC 3169 | ABN 20 005 631 710 YEARS |7


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ESC fare review fair? The final report from the Essential Services Commission (ESC) has now been published with an outcome that surprised no-one in our industry. While the Essential Services Commission (ESC) maintains it is independent, and presumably objective in its assessments, some of the terminology it has used, as in its previous review, such as the need to achieve “outcome based” results appears to conflict with its objectivity. The explanations provided in Appendix D of Draft Report Volume 2 are at odds with the experience of most operators: being neither economists nor academics, operators rely on an overview of their costs / income as it is incurred on a daily basis and reflected in their bank accounts and financial statements, as most who operate in the real world do. Similarly the treatment of network fees is questionable. Why has this cost been divided into equipment and labour components? At the end of the day operators only look at what they are paying and that cost is now higher than it was two years ago despite the fact that taxi numbers increased by just over 10% and taxi trips declined by 9%, presumably with networks distributing fewer jobs to larger fleets. Surely that is a cost increase instead of the decrease asserted by the ESC? The impact of earlier decisions has not been considered fully, given the detrimental effect these changes have had on the industry in terms of driver availability and in some operations, a poor outcome in terms of consumer benefits. This is certainly the case in the WAT / Maxi area. The ESC, however, has a different perspective. Preferring to treat driver costs as an opportunity cost instead of a direct, indeed significant, labour cost although its attendant Workcover component is included. Of course to have done so would have meant recognising the impact of the implementation of the Taxi Industry Inquiry 55% / 45% amendment to driver agreements and the consequent 10% increase in driver costs to operators. The inclusion of this ‘opportunity cost’ in Tables D2 and D3 would have put a different complexion on the results shown and their impact on operations. The removal of the higher tariff and introduction of a $14 fee, resulted in many drivers leaving this sector of the industry and drivers reassessing the value of maxi work. 10 | July 2016 YEARS Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry


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For example, where’s the value in driving 5kms, 10kms to do a maxi job for $7.70 ($14 @ 55%), leaving consumers to engage two or three sedans? Where’s the consumer benefit? The thinking behind this was based on the perceived incidence of tariff fraud and so all drivers in this area were penalised because of the actions of some. If this incidence of fraud was as prevalent as indicated why did the VTD / TSC not take appropriate action against the perpetrators? Such a resolution to a problem would be unacceptable in most commercial operations and just imagine the outcry if this had happened in a unionised environment. Both this, the 2014 review and the Taxi Industry Inquiry are disappointing to most in the industry. Far from providing worthwhile reforms they seem intent on destroying the industry and bankrupting those who have put so much into it. Rankin Phylle Owner / Operator TT HYBRID IS THE FUTURE Visit Melbourne City Toyota Lower your operating costs with Hybrid Call us TODAY! FINANCE AVAILABLE AT CAMPAIGN RATES* Melbourne City Toyota 621 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000 (03) 9282 8888 *T.A.P. Pics for illustration purpose only. E&OE. LMCT 10618 Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry YEARS July 2016 | 11


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Uber impasse solution The Government’s attempts to solve the emergence of ride share services via prosecution in the Courts, were doomed to fail from the outset. Uber is a multinational goliath that is capable of exhausting the State Government through the Courts. This was again in stark relief with last month’s outcome in the County Court. Alan Fels’ reforms of the Taxi and Hire Car Industry, which were adopted wholeheartedly by the previous Liberal Government, were out of date even before they began as Uber began operating in Australia at the end of 2012. Two years on, the Laws are a joke. Taxi and Hire Car Operators are struggling to stay afloat under an insurmountable cost burden imposed upon them by Government. Meanwhile, the life savings of thousands, invested in good faith in Government issued licences, have been trashed! The State Government’s little cash cow – selling Taxi and Hire car licences – has been exposed for what it was. And the Government no longer has any idea of who operates a commercial passenger vehicle in Victoria as thousands are operating off the Uber platform. The Government has lost the plot. Alan Fels himself has jumped ship – he has abandoned his own rules and now bats for Uber as he is employed on their International advisory body. Whilst everyone is battling to protect their little fiefdom, it’s the Victorian travelling Public who is being served a compromised and contorted service offering. Should I do the right thing and get a legal service and pay the small premium, or run the gauntlet and go for the cheaper, ‘illegal’ (and uninsured?) option. The travelling Public has tired of the Government’s bungling and has naturally, swarmed to the cheaper offerings, including Uber. The only hope for a viable long term solution is via legislation not prosecution. As the emergence of technology has fused the function of Taxis and prebooked cars - Hire Cars, Uber, Ingogo, Mum’s Taxi Service (and many more to come) - it is in the Interests of all Victorians that a long term legislative framework is put in place that: • • provides consumers a broad choice of offerings ensures the travelling public’s safety - by mandating Police checks, Health checks, RWC and Commercial Passenger Vehicle insurance ensures everyone operating for commercial advantage pays their fair share of Tax and acknowledges the investment made in Government licences by existing operators. • • 12 | July 2016 YEARS Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry


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This can all be achieved, cheaply, quickly and in a way that provides Government with an growing annuity into the future. A Government buy out of all existing Hire Car licences in the State of Victoria would cost $45 million. The Government should then lease licences to all (non-taxi) operators at $100 per month. This would raise $11 million annually – and would grow over time. The Government would easily recoup its investment over the first 4 years. That’s called good business and a great investment for Victorian taxpayers! At this price point, licences are cheap and accessible to all. A $1 levy should then be introduced on every fare for four years – taxis, Hire Cars, Uber, Ingogo – the lot. This would raise $40-50 million annually. The Government should match this dollar for dollar and set up a Fund that over four years is worth $350400 million with which it could offer a genuine compensation scheme to Taxi Licence holders – approximately $100,000 each as opposed the insult of $20,000 offered by the NSW Government. Taxis would retain the right of the rank and hail privileges and should have other costs such as $2,800 registration fees reduced. These reforms would establish a level playing field for all operators. Then the industry should be left alone to focus on providing Victorians with great customer service in order to win their custom – just like every other Industry. Daniel Andrews and Mathew Guy are responsible. I have put this proposal repeatedly to both the office the Transport Minister and the Opposition Leader. Both have recognised the merits of such a proposal. But both continue to use this as a political football and blame the other side. The Industry deserves better. The travelling public deserves better. It’s time for the Premier and the Opposition Leader to genuinely address the issue and stop abdicating their responsibility to Victorians. George Kapnias Managing Director TT Southern Cross HQLC Pty Ltd Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry YEARS July 2016 | 13


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To regulate or not... Last month, MPs Fiona Patten and Jacinta Allan, agreed to work together to develop a regulatory framework for rideshare services for Victoria. Providing for rideshare services raises a number of complex and inter-related issues regarding passenger safety, equity for the existing industry and access for people with a disability, among others. Transport Minister Jacinta Allan believes that Fiona Patten’s Bill provides a way-forward on a number of these issues, but there is more to be done to develop a safe, fair, workable framework and provide certainty to the industry. “I acknowledge her hard work on this issue and share her desire to see this growing industry regulated – I look forward to continuing discussions with Ms Patten to develop a solution that works for passengers and the industry,” said Ms Allan. “That may mean deregulating the taxi industry to a certain extent, because they’ve been regulated because they’ve had a monopoly up until now.” “This is clearly an industry that is going through change, in part brought about by technology,” she said. “There are many different areas the framework needs to contemplate,” she said. “I understand there has been a desire for action. But it is complex,” said the Minister. “There is a lot to consider and it’s not with a stroke of the pen that you can change the taxi industry overnight. We want to take the time to get this right,” she continued. Sex Party MP Fiona Patten said “The Government has been working on this for 15 months, I think six more weeks should be plenty of time. We have established the foundation for this in our bill ... now it’s about migrating the regulations that will keep control in this industry and allow it to operate safely.” “I would certainly like to see something substantial in early August and I would hope to see it operating before Christmas,” she continued. Premier Daniel Andrews said “The government will regulate ride-sharing, but we’re going to do it properly”. He said other states had acted quickly on ride-sharing, but did not get it right. “I think getting this right is the most important thing. We are a step closer to being able to regulate this industry,” said Premier Andrews. Opposition Transport spokesman David Hodgett said, “Once again, Daniel Andrews has chosen to defer making a decision on ride-sharing, showing he’ll continue to sit on his hands while consumers, drivers and the taxi industry are kept in limbo about their future.” “If there is no agreement by the resumption of Parliament in August, the Liberal Nationals will introduce our own bill to legalise Uber.” TT 14 | July 2016 YEARS Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry


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