August 2017 Drive A2B


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Drive A2B August 2017 edition - voice of the Victorian point-to-point transport industry

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DEREGULATION IS COMING! WE WANT YOUR TAXI! Have you had enough? Are you looking to retire? Do you want a change? FAIR PRICE PAID & IMMEDIATE SETTLEMENT GET OUT NOW! BEFORE DEREGULATION DESTROYS YOUR BUSINESS CONTACT HARRY 0418 333 433 email 1313-1315 North Road, Huntingdale Phone 9543 8700


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CONTENTS REGULARS 6 Really Minister The Victorian Minister for Transport has been less than forthcoming with the facts. It is a classic example of not what you say, but what you don’t say. 10 VHCA update Vice President, Andre Baruch, gives an update on the TSC Ride Share Steering Committee and the Melbourne Airport Landside Operator’s Committee. 16 Victorian Taxi & Hire Car Families Over 500 people attended their recent meeting to discuss the status of our industry and to be encouraged not to give up hope. 20 Autonomous cars These vehicles won’t stop congestion, but they will make your future commute a lot more pleasant. 26 Your say Letters and emails received by DRIVE A2B regarding the point-to-point transport industry. FRONT COVER Mt Hotham, Victoria 32 Industry statistics Figures for last month’s Victorian taxi and hire car industry statistics. 36 Overseas news Snippets regarding the point-to-point industry around the world. Editor Mrs Toni Peters Publisher Trade Promotions Pty Ltd PO Box 2345, Mount Waverley Vic. 3149 Advertising enquiries Mrs Toni Peters P 0400 137 866 E · W Media Pack containing advertisement sizes and costs can be downloaded from our website. Deadline All articles, editorial and artwork must be submitted by the 15th of the month prior to publication date. Home delivery subscription $40 for your copy of DRIVE A2B to be mailed to you for one year. Payment options Direct Deposit to Trade Promotions Pty Ltd BSB 033065 ACC 312786 REF your name Mail Cheque to Trade Promotions Pty Ltd PO Box 2345, Mt Waverley VIC 3149 DRIVE A2B magazine · August 2017 3


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Welcome to the August 2017 edition of DRiVE Voice of the Victorian Point-to-Point Transport Industry Editorial Melbourne Airport is changing the way that they are collecting the fees from taxi drivers who wish to service passengers at Melbourne Airport. As of 1 September the current swipe card process will no longer be used. Instead gantries will identify a vehicle as being a taxi and the vehicle’s e-TAG will be debited. To date nothing has been mentioned with regards to Hire Car or Ride Share vehicles and whether there will be a charge to their e-TAGs in the future. Last month, in a recent letter from the Taxi Services Commission (TSC) regarding the Transition Assistance package, it was stated that the package provides a lump-sum, upfront payment to eligible taxi and hire car licence holders. At this stage the Australian Taxation Office is treating this value as income and it will be subject to tax. The letter also stated that all eligible licence holders (those who held an eligible licence on 15 August 2016 and still held that licence on 14 July 2017), will automatically receive their Transition Assistance payment shortly after legislation passes through parliament. Perhaps it should have read IF legislation passes through parliament. It hasn’t passed yet and you should never pre-empt what this government of ours is going to do. The letter also asked the question “WHAT YOU NEED TO DO?” It’s answer was “NOTHING! – IT’S BUSINESS AS USUAL.” NOTHING? Really? What is usual about the state this industry is currently in? What is usual about the fact that this government is cancelling all taxi and hire car licences and only giving a pittance of remuneration back to their owners? What is usual about the regulators, the TSC, not enforcing the regulations? Last month a position was advertised for a “Senior Accessible Transport Services Administration Officer” for the TSC. The advertisement stated that the TSC regulates the taxi and hire vehicle industries in Victoria. Now that’s interesting - because of late they haven’t been enforcing the rules and regulations of the Transport Act, yet they still advertise themselves at regulators! Jacinta Allan, Minister for Transport, said after last month’s train debacle, that the computer malfunction was ”completely unacceptable” and said that tighter control to stop a repeat of the problem will be put in place. How is she going to have tighter control over the computers or the programs that run the train system? Maybe she has a looking glass that is able to tell when these things are going to happen and therefore she can wave her wand and stop them! 4 DRIVE A2B magazine · August 2017


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incorporating TAXIOF THE TVAOXIICINEDUSTRY on the ranks MAGAZINE since 1966 She also announced that the government is looking at capping Uber’s surge pricing in such situations. Ms Allan said the company was being “put on notice”. “Certainly as part of broader reforms to the industry, these sorts of concerns on consumer protection is exactly what we want to have in place,” she said. But, Ms Allan, this is what Uber is all about. Low fares when there is a glut of commercial passenger vehicles on the road and then hike them through the roof when there is a shortage. Uber has been doing this all around the world ever since it started - some eight years ago! This is how Uber and their driver partners make their money. Uber’s drivers cannot live on the regular fares that they offer, so they accept those fares and then wait patiently until the surged fares come along. Does Ms Allan really think that SHE is going to get Uber to stop surge pricing? Surely she can’t be that shortsighted? Perhaps she should go to Specsavers! By the way, hasn’t the government just about deregulated this industry, and now they are spruiking that they will be putting regulations in place. Anyone out there confused? Uber has so many problems that even getting rid of CEO Travis Kalanick has not enabled the company to resolve all of their problems. Just last month the company was slapped with another lawsuit in New York’s Supreme Court, over its near-total lack of wheelchair accessible vehicles. Apparently only 100 of Uber’s 58,000 city cars are equipped to transport wheelchair customers. Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) website shows a complaint by the plaintiffs (a coalition of activists) and it states, “Uber has demonstrated a total disregard for the needs of people with disabilities in the provision of its transportation services and the anti-discrimination laws of New York City”. DRA also says that passengers trying to hail a car with Uber’s pilot program for wheelchairaccessible vehicles, UberWAV, “face extended wait times, or are still denied access to the service altogether, demonstrating that the new service is nothing more than window-dressing, designed to avoid government regulation and legal requirements”. So, if Uber is unable to provide enough vehicles for its UberWAV program in New York City, it is most unlikely that it will be able to provide them in Victoria. And by their own admission, Luke Groeneveld said during the Parliamentary Enquiry that this is certainly not their priority, nor is it priority to get Uber driver-partners in regional areas. Toni Peters EDITOR Views expressed in any article in DRIVE A2B 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. DRIVE A2BTM is wholly owned by Trade Promotions Pty Ltd. © Trade Promotions Pty Ltd 2017. All rights reserved. Copyright of articles and photographs in DRIVE A2BTM remains with the individual contributors and may not be reproduced without permission. DRIVE A2B magazine · August 2017 5


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VIEWPOINT Really Minister ALTERNATIVE FACTS! In Victoria there are approximately 5600 taxi licences and 2700 hire car licences. The Minister’s public suggestions that taxi drivers will be $23,000/year better off, is simply untrue. We have been advised that less than 10% of the 5600 Victorian taxi fleet pay $23,000/year to the Victorian Government. The 2700 hire car licences are privately owned, cannot be leased, therefore the $23000/year has no bearing on the hire car industry at all. In fact nothing in this Bill adds any improvements to the hire car industry. We have spoken to customers of the hire car industry and Minister Allan should do the same. New ride sharing entrants to Victoria (primarily Uber) will not have to pay $23000/year while the Minister leaves the established industry financially ruined with legacy debt and also emotionally shattered. In a letter by Minister Allan to the Scrutiny of Acts Committee (SARC), with regards to the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Industry Bill 2017, the Minister wrote that there was no Charter concern because ‘there is some doubt’ as to whether a taxi licence under the current legislation was property. In support of that idea, the Minister referred to a British planning law case in which the loss of value in a home was found not to be a property right. What the Minister did not mention was, that the question of taxi licences as property has already been decided in Australia..... by the High Court! In Federal Commissioner of Taxation v Murray (1998) 193 CLR 605, the majority of the High Court wrote that “the licence is property... A taxi licence is a valuable item of property because it has economic potential. It allows its holder to conduct a profitable business and it may be sold or leased for reward to a third party.” There is no doubt that taxi licences in Australia are property. Minister Allan also publicly claims that the Victorian government are providing the most generous compensation package in Australia. Minister Allan says this without providing any context - no other State or Territory in Australia is cancelling $1BILLION of taxi-cab and hire-car licences; in fact, we are unaware of any other place on the planet where this bizarre decision has been made to accommodate ride-sharing operations. It was simply not necessary to do this to introduce ride share providers to Victoria’s commercial passenger vehicle industry. The failure of the Taxi Services Commission (TSC) has left 6 DRIVE A2B magazine · August 2017


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Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan has been less than forthcoming with the facts. It is a classic example of not what you say, but what you don’t say. BY ROD BARTON, President VHCA our members bewildered and frustrated over their lack of compliance action. The TSC has openly supported illegal ride share operators by turning a blind eye. Many people within the taxi and hire car industry have lost complete confidence in the ability of the TSC to be independent of Government and enforce the current legislation. Legislation which we believe they have a statutory obligation to enforce. The Andrews Government leaves thousands of established drivers and operators financially and emotionally damaged, many will not recover. Jacinta Allan (Labor), Samantha Dunn (Greens) and Fiona Patton (Sex Party) have combined to reduce a popular, well run hire car industry to nothing more than a part time ride share provider, compromising safety, lowering standards and consumer choice. All at the expense of the travelling public. VEHICLE CHEAP financeRATES CHEAP FINANCE RATES FOR taxis limos vans buses 9561 8876 95 Garden Road, Clayton (near Ikea) EASY BEST FAST CAR LOANS SERVICE APPROVALS We are accredited with over 30 banks and other lenders GAP COVER up to $30,000 available vha vehicles all cars yarrafinance experts in commercial finance proudly serving the taxi industry DRIVE A2B magazine · August 2017 7


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TAXI NEWS CONSPIRACY TO TAKE OVER BY HANS ALTHOFF, Taxi Owner/Operator As a general rule I do not prescribe to a conspiracy theory, however there seems to be plenty of evidence and facts over the last 15 years that could support such a theory. Who are or would be the players in such a conspiracy? The Government, the TSC, the Victorian Taxi Association (VTA) and the Radio networks all benefited over the last 15 years by the systematic destruction of the Victorian taxi industry. Contrary to popular belief I do not include the radio networks as part of the taxi industry, but a very important supplier to the industry. The real taxi industry is made up of licence holders, operators and drivers. The real taxi industry originally included the radio networks till they were taken over by big industry players who started to work for their own interest, rather than the common good. So where did all this start? I believe that it all started with some person or a group of people in Treasury who realised that there was a lot of money to be made by the government if they no longer issued or sold Perpetual Taxi Licences to the Taxi Industry, but rather issue yearly licences for a price. They decided to test the water by issuing 600 Peak Service licences, claiming to help the customer by putting more taxis on the road in peak times. The government made these yearly licences available only to drivers who fulfilled certain criteria and got the drivers on their side by falsely telling them that they could be their own boss, when in fact they became the slaves of the government. Any driver who drove the vehicle by himself, as suggested by the Government, soon found that he drove himself to exhaustion, or did not make a reasonable living. With the drivers and the public on the side of the Government there remained only four more obstacles namely the radio networks, the perpetual Taxi Licence Holders, the Taxi Operators, and the Victorian Taxi Association. The radio networks and the VTA did a deal with Government whereby they would each benefit to the tune of $3.5 million with virtually no capital cost. The radio networks did not dispatch any more work, but had to pay a small amount of money for equipment, however they charged the same depot fees and hence added over $3 million to their profit line. All the government had to do for their $3.5 million windfall, was the payment of a small increase in their wages bill. It is at this point that the The VTA abandoned the Licence holders first then the Operators. 8 DRIVE A2B magazine · August 2017


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government went into business with the radio networks, created a conflict of interest and abandoned it responsibilities as a regulator. This relatively small action by the government netted the radio networks till 2017 in excess of $70 million. So a very cosy arrangement where the government and the radio networks win, and where the voice of Perpetual Licence Holders, the Operators and the Drivers are not even heard and therefore they lose. Over the last few years a similar method was used to put more money into the coffers of the radio networks and the government. The Brumby Government sold 200 ten-year licences for $36 million and issued 320 Wheelchair Taxi Licences for a yearly fee of around $11 million per year, which was later reduced to $7 million. However we shouldn’t forget the ex-chairman of the ACCC, Allan Fels, who managed to release hundreds more taxis into an already grossly oversupplied market. His understanding of the taxi industry was so poor, that he did not know the difference between occupation rate in a taxi and availability of a taxi. Since 2002 the Victorian government has had more than $100 million income from the taxi industry, without spending a single dollar in capital. Over the last couple of years they would have made more than $20 million per year, but they want more. In fact the proposed levy of $1 per job will give them $40 million a year. In a recent letter from the government it says “WHAT YOU NEED TO DO Nothing! – it’s business as usual” Perpetual Taxi Licence holders with respect to the proposed licence changes is an absolute insult to the intelligence of every Licence Holder. Is it business as usual when you can no longer sell an asset that you held for many years? Is it business as usual when your assets of the business have been transferred to Big Business? It has become more and more evident in more recent years that the taxi licence holders and the operators were no longer represented by the VTA. The VTA abandoned the Licence Holders first, then the Operators. Now that Cabcharge feels that the VTA has done the job for them, they no longer pay any fees to the VTA, take the VTA CEO into their fold and congratulate themselves for a job well done. It is now absolutely clear that the Licence Holders can no longer expect any help from the radio networks or the VTA. aLNsEeseiGsdtaAncLe? Serving the Taxi Industry for over 30 years • Business • Commercial • Conveyancing • Estate Planning • Family • Litigation • Probate • Taxation • Superannuation AMS LAW Adams Maguire Sier 176 Upper Heidelberg Road, Ivanhoe Email: | Phone: 9497 2622 Since 2002 Victorian government has received more than $100 million income from this industry. DRIVE A2B magazine · August 2017 9


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VHCA INDUSTRY COMMITTEES BY ANDRE BARUCH, Vice President VHCA Taxi Services Commission Services Ride Share Steering Committee As representative of the VHCA I am a member of the Victorian Government’s Taxi Services Commission (TSC) led steering committee. This committee is tasked with helping to determine, among other things, how to implement the new laws that will eventually allow “Ride Share” to operate legally in Victoria. At this point it is worth remembering that a camel is a horse that has been designed by a committee! 1 I can’t help notice the irony that this committee includes representatives from the Department of Economic Development, Jobs,Transport and Resources (The Dept) and the TSC (including their legal team). When you review their previous track record, the makeup of this committee does not fill us with confidence. Also in attendance were representatives from State Revenue Office (SRO), taxi operators and (at the time of writing) illegal operators such as Uber and Sheebah. Nothing like letting the wolves dictate to the sheep what the rules will be … Putting that aside, the Committee decided to form working groups talking about four key areas of interest: 1. Driver Accreditation; 2. Booking Service Providers; 3. Vehicles and 4. Communications. The good news is that the TSC recognises that their communications have not been up to scratch! Far from it, if you ask me … The not so good news is that as there was so much interest from most participants in being in working groups the TSC has decided to form one working group 10 DRIVE A2B magazine · August 2017


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The government is letting the wolves dictate to the sheep what the rules will be. with everyone involved, with a meeting time (as of 12 July) yet to be set. At the last meeting the Steering Committee was advised of the now publicised pathways ONCE legislation has been passed. At the time of writing the legislation has still not been passed by parliament. Melbourne Airport Landside Operator’s Committee I am also a member of Melbourne Airport’s Landside Operators’ Committee. Melbourne Airport gives us a quarterly run down on what has been happening – including all planned infrastructure works and the effect the current roadworks on the freeway are having on the airport. There is also a focus on safety, and safety related incidents. It is pleasing to note that, given the huge numbers of individual movements of people and vehicles at the airport, the safety incidents are ridiculously low. All of us, including the airport staff, are to be commended for this – for our safe driving and awareness of passengers around us. I am, of course, keeping a close eye on the parking plans that the airport has for Uber, but at this stage they have yet to announce anything. All they are saying is that:- 1. they are aware that VHA cars offer a premium service and should retain their premium parking place. 2. they will make plans if and when Ride Sharing is legalised. I will keep you all informed of any changes; both through DRIVE A2B and through the VHCA’s Facebook page. 1 An expression critical of committees by emphasizing the ineffectiveness of incorporating too many conflicting opinions into a single project. You can sit there and complain HIRE CAR & TAXI OWNERS JOIN VHCA TODAY ONLY $120 pa about how unfair this all is .... but what we know is, at this stage, you are going to get 100% of NOTHING. JOIN US and maybe, just maybe, we will get a little bit of something! 11DRIVE A2B magazine · August 2017


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RIDE SOURCING The TWU calls on all state government to stop ride-share rip-off of passengers and drivers. STOP INDUSTRY RIP-OFFS The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) is calling on all State Governments to protect passengers and drivers over arbitrary rate increases and wage reductions by ride-sharing platforms such as Uber. The Union is also seeking regulation to force transparency from Uber on how it sets its rates, following complaints from drivers and passengers over its secretive system. “We cannot stand by while a system which is gaining a foothold in our transport network can increase rates or reduce them at random. At the moment this is happening at the whim of tech giants which are wielding their power in an entirely opaque way.” “Governments need to protect drivers and passengers from being ripped off,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon. The TWU call follows Ms Jacinta Allan’s (Victorian Transport Minister) announcement last month that it would introduce legislation to protect passengers against rate increases associated with Uber’s price-surging model. But the TWU also wants to see protections for drivers, who suffer when Uber cuts rates, leaving them earning less, or increases rates, threatening their livelihoods by turning customers off. “Passengers were ripped off in Melbourne last month when the train network shut down and in Sydney during the Lindt café siege because of Uber’s price-surging”, said Tony Sheldon. “Drivers who sign up to Uber in good faith cannot bank on an income when the company can increase or decrease rates without warning or consultation. Governments are failing to protect the public and drivers by not acting on this,” he added. Uber has been criticised over its lack of transparency on how it sets its rates and the fact that the gap between what passengers pay and what drivers get is widening. A new system being trialled for “route-pricing” based on what Uber estimates passengers are willing to pay, is also being criticised. “The on-demand economy is again in the dock over its influence on our laws and society. We already know drivers are being denied protections such as sick leave and annual leave and are subject to arbitrary dismissal without independent oversight of industrial tribunals”, Mr Sheldon continued. “We also have passengers and drivers held to ransom over price gouging when it suits the tech giants. Our Governments need to regulate this sector to protect our society,” Mr Sheldon added. 12 DRIVE A2B magazine · August 2017 Governments are failing to protect the public and drivers by not acting.


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VTHF ONE GLITCH & RIDESHARE GOES TO TOWN Middle of July the Melbourne transport system shut down, due to a malfunction, leaving hundreds of commuters stranded. This caused chaos amongst the travelling public wanting to get home and left them seeking alternatives. Having so many people all wanting to make an exodus out of the city made the roads extremely congested and added extra time for everyone to get home. Although the trains were up and running after a short period, it took many hours for the roads to clear. This was an opportunity for the illegal rideshare to gouge the people they so desperately want to win over. Many who opted to use this illegal service to get to where they wanted to go certainly paid a very handsome price. This is a litmus test for things to come, since our state government doesn’t have the foresight to see the peril that they have placed the public in. An unregulated and illegal service had taken it upon themselves to make a mockery of the people who use them. The illegal rideshare model has shown its modus operandi well before they are deemed to operate legally. It has made its intentions quite clear that placing the highest price on peak times of demand is of the highest priority. A hard lesson for people who used this illegal service to learn. It had left a big hole in their wallet. The frustration of the transport meltdown made a good talking point in the media, which had a lot of people angrily complaining of the price gouging of the illegal rideshare. Around the world we have seen and read about ridesharing using this tactic even at the most catastrophic events. 14 DRIVE A2B magazine · August 2017


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Hands up if you think the Victorian government should Buy Back - Buy Fair! The illegal rideshare also highlights the incompetence of government who allow an unregulated service do what it likes and how it pleases, and not value an industry that has shown more value and service. T he recent joint meeting of VTHF and VHCA members last month saw legal people, Bronwyn and Hayden, attend the meeting and give an update on the legal proceedings on behalf of the VTHF. They advised that they have sent a significant amount of correspondence to parliament members and personnel at the Taxi Services Commission, and that they have done monumental amounts of research and evidence collecting. They stated that even if the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Industry 2017 Bill passes in August - that’s not the end of the fight. Their primary objective is to get a better deal on licence compensation. It was also mentioned that concrete evidence was needed before legal proceedings were begun. Now that this evidence is to hand and their portfolio is almost complete, they will be moving forward post haste . A timeline and potential costs for the legal proceedings will be advised once the case is fully determined, put into place and goals have been set. As Linda DeMelis said, “We need to put our trust in these legal representatives as they are trained in law and it is the law that we need help with”. We all need to unite and unify if we are to have a win against this government. 15DRIVE A2B magazine · August 2017



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