Taxi Talk April 2014

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April 2014 magazine for Taxi drivers, owners and operators

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TAXI TALK APRIL 2014 ISSUE NO 552 TAXI VOICE OF THE TAXI INDUSTRY MAGAZINE Official journal of the Victorian Taxi Association Print Post Approved number 100004912 VOICE OF THE TAXI INDUSTRY unseen world IMAX MELBOURNE Unseen World 3D takes audiences on an almost unbelievable journey into unseen worlds and hidden dimensions beyond our normal vision - a microscopic world once reserved for scientists, but now made accessible to the rest of us. It uncovers the mysteries of things too fast, too slow, too small or simply invisible, revealing phenomena secreted away in different dimensions of time and scale.


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INSIDE... 4 12 14 18 26 36 Victorian Taxi Association editorial Radical overhaul of industry TAXI VOICE OF THE TAXI INDUSTRY MAGAZINE OFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE VICTORIAN TAXI ASSOCIATION MAGAZINE EDITOR ........................ Toni F. Peters VTA EDITOR ....................................David Samuel FOUNDER ....................................Stanley F. White PUBLISHER ..................Trade Promotions Pty Ltd VTA 50th anniversary launch Held at Ballarat Taxis ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES Trade Promotions Pty Ltd 42 Grenfell Road, Mt Waverley VIC 3149 PO Box 2345, Mt Waverley VIC 3149 Phone: ............................................. 03 9807 0237 Region News Phones and zones Email: ................................... Website: ................................ DISPLAY ADVERTISEMENTS All copy, editorial and artwork must be in by the 15th of the month prior to publication date. Advertisement sizes and rates can be viewed at Licence statistics Taxi and hire car licence statistics for last month SUBSCRIPTION DETAILS 1 year = $33 Taxi Services Commission Updates on issues affecting the Victorian Taxi Industry CLASSIFIED ADVERTISEMENTS $25 for 30 words, $50 for 60 words, etc. Email or Mail your classified advertisement by the 15th of the month prior to publication date, together with your payment. Events calendar Dates and locations of Melbourne’s major events PAYMENT OPTIONS • • • Via PAYPAL to Direct Deposit to BSB 033065 A/c 312786 Mail Cheque to Trade Promotions Pty Ltd PO Box 2345, Mt Waverley VIC 3149 Want to know as soon as Taxi Talk is uploaded to our website? Become a member of, and you will get an email immediately the next edition has been uploaded. Register at Phone: 03 9676 2635................ Fax: 03 9676 2643 PRESIDENT .................................... Kevin Gange VICE PRESIDENT ................. Stephen Armstrong CHIEF EXECUTIVE ....................... David Samuel Taxi Talk magazine, a monthly publication for the Victorian taxi industry, is published by Trade Promotions Pty Ltd in collaboration with the Victorian Taxi Association Inc (VTA). The VTA is the peak industry body in Victoria, fostering the interests and wellbeing of taxi-cab drivers, taxi-cab operators and taxi-cab Network Service Providers across the state. Taxi Talk magazine is wholly owned by Trade Promotions Pty Ltd. COPYRIGHT © Trade Promotions Pty Ltd 2014. 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. Views expressed in any article in Taxi Talk 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 - Voice of the Taxi Industry April 2014 |3


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Radical overhaul Like so many of you I am sure, the VTA had a very busy March and during April we anticipate more of the same. During February and March, the Taxi Services Commission (TSC) released a number of documents, and made a number of public statements, that are simply pivotal to the future structure and direction of our industry. These announcements included: Victoria’s new taxi zones A proposed excessive entry test • A proposed consumer interest test, and • An announcement relating to the release of more metropolitan licences prior to July 2014. The VTA has engaged experts to assist us in responding to the proposed new taxi zones and the proposed excessive entry test. We will also involve our members in these processes to ensure their concerns are represented and considered as a part of these important changes. I will leave the commentary for another time and place - namely the • • of industry David Samuel VTA CEO submissions themselves. It is fair to say though, that we do have a number of concerns that emanate from these documents and what they propose. The same can be said for the consumer interest test. It is important that industry participants share their views via the submission process. As an industry, we cannot afford the cynical approach that is adopted too often and say there is no point contributing because no one will listen. It is unrealistic to expect that Government will simply do whatever we suggest. If a sensible and viable argument is made, it is possible that Government will take account and the industry’s voice will be heard. Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry 4 | April 2014


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If you have not read the documents referred to above, I suggest you do so. All are available from the TSC website and easily accessible. Remember that the proposed excessive entry test and proposed consumer interest test will be applied according to licence zone. The excessive entry test will be used in metropolitan and urban areas, while the consumer interest test will be applied in regional and country areas. During the February/March period, Taxi Services Commissioner Graeme Samuel also announced more metropolitan licences would be released under the existing regime. The reason for this release is that licence assignment values have not come down to what the TSC consider to be an appropriate level. The VTA oppose this release as we believe that it is unnecessary given new licences will become available as soon as July, and further, will supply an oversupplied market. This will not result in better outcomes for taxi user or the taxi industry. One issue this announcement has brought to the surface that concerns me relates to what will happen in relation to licensing come July 2014. Many I have spoken to seem to expect a formal process where a number of licences will be released. Let me be clear when I say this is unlikely to be the case. As it stands, as of July 1 2014, the Government, via the TSC will offer the new licences to people who are suitably qualified. There will be no restriction on the number. The only way the number of licences will be restricted is if, via the excessive entry test, the TSC determine further entry to market will impact negatively on consumers. This is what makes the excessive entry test and its application so important for the future of our industry and those who procure its services. In country and regional areas the process is different. Before a licence is released the TSC are required to apply the consumer interest test. This is what makes the consumer entry test and its application so important in these areas. Work on the Price Notification process is continuing and the VTA is treating this as a priority. March did see some important outcomes in this respect. The VTA will continue to work with the relevant authorities in this space to mitigate the risk it poses for the Victorian taxi industry and those who use taxis - particularly in country areas. As I write my contribution this month, the Transport Legislation Amendment (Further Taxi Reform and Other Matters) Bill 2014 has just been introduced into the Parliament. This bill contains important amendments to the existing regulatory structures, particularly in relation to price notification, industry accreditation and licence zones. The VTA has commissioned an analysis of the Bill and its implications for our members. This work will have been distributed to members by the time this edition of Taxi Talk hits the streets. Finally, let me welcome and thank all new VTA members who joined our association during March. It’s great to have you all on board and while we expect a tough few months, we look forward to working with you. D Reform update On 13 March 2014, a further series of amendments, primarily to the Transport Act and another recent amendment Bill was read for a second time in the Legislative Assembly. The Transport Legislation Amendment (Further Taxi Reform and Other Matters) Bill 2014 is the second round of legislative amendments to implement the reforms accepted by Government arising from the Victorian Taxi Industry Inquiry. The primary aims of the Bill are to: • enable price notification in regional and country zones • remove the existing accreditation requirements on taxi licence holders • reducing accreditation requirements on taxi operators and networks • give the Taxi Services Commission additional Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry LEGISLATIVE CHANGES compliance and enforcement powers which were mostly previously held by the Department of Transport • create dispute resolution arrangements for disagreements between operators and drivers • correct errors in past amendments which establish zone conditions for pre-booked taxi work • create a metropolitan and urban zone overlap at Avalon airport • enable the TSC to establish a public register of taxi industry participants The VTA are currently analysing the implications of the amendments in detail and will provide advice to members as soon as possible. We expect this will have been completed by the time this edition is published. The Bill is to be debated during the sitting of Parliament between Tuesday 25 and Thursday 27 of March.D April 2014 |5


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THE LAUNCH Don’t take the risk! 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the Victorian Taxi Association (VTA). This significant milestone is a good opportunity to reflect on the modernisation of the taxi industry over the past half century and our achievements as an association. To mark the start of a year of celebrations, the VTA cut cake with taxi drivers and operators at Ballarat Taxis on the 25th of February. VTA President Kevin Gange (pictured) offered words of encouragement to the industry as it responds to a changing regulatory environment. “I have seen a great deal of change in the industry over my many years as a driver, owner and operator of taxis and am proud of the role the VTA has played throughout the years leading the industry in times of change and being a facilitator of innovation.” The VTA CEO David Samuel has a positive view of the future saying “the VTA looks forward to the next 50 years with anticipation as we continue to lead the industry into a new age, finding opportunities to expand through change and identify ways to open new streams of business.” Born of a coalition between metropolitan taxi depots, today the VTA has come to represent the interests of Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry taxi businesses across the state from Mildura to Melbourne, Wodonga to Warrnambool. To commemorate the golden anniversary, the VTA will launch its 50 faces, 50 years project to profile a range of individuals who have been involved in the industry in various ways throughout the years. From owners and operators, passengers and drivers, to regulators and suppliers to the industry, the VTA will put together a story that spans the years and looks to the future. The characters who make up this industry are what keeps it unique and exciting. The VTA welcomes contributions to this publication or recommendations and volunteers for the 50 Face, 50 Years project. The anniversary will also be marked with a gala dinner, driver specific events. Please contact Alana Condon, VTA Membership Services Co-ordinator on 03 9676 2635 or email to express your interest in becoming involved. D April 2014 |7


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Taxi Licence release Arguably the most significant aspect of the current industry reforms is the changes to taxi licensing. The proposed approach is a fundamental shift from the Government’s past approach and is designed to increase competition in the market with the ultimate aim of improving services and reducing prices for customers. It is the VTA’s serious concern that this new, more open approach to taxi licensing has the potential to in fact bring about the opposite outcome for the community and industry. A key determinant of whether services are improved or eroded is the test used to limit the release of licences in the metropolitan, urban and large regional zones, the excessive entry test, and in country and regional zones the consumer interest test. The VTA is still strongly opposed to the sunset clause in the legislation which effects the licensing changes which brings an end to the Commis- sioner’s ability to limit the supply of taxi licences after three years from the date the new licensing regime is proclaimed. In April, the Taxi Services Commission (TSC) released consultation papers on both the excessive entry and consumer interest tests. The VTA are currently working with an economist and members to finalise a submission to the TSC in response to both papers which will be available on the VTA website once submitted. D Taxi Services Commissioner Graeme Samuel last month gazetted the release of 60 new metropolitan licences. Of these, 14 are to be WATs and the remainder conventional. The justification for this release appears to be that the fair and reasonable average assignment price ($22K-$25K per annum excluding GST) for metropolitan Melbourne, as stated publicly by Commissioner Samuel, has not been achieved. The average currently sits at around $27K pa excluding GST. The licences will be released in two parts, 30 in each (7 WATs in each part). Applications are due by 11 April from which eligible applications will be selected, at random, by an independent organisation, using a lottery system. To be eligible, applicants will need to hold operator accreditation as well as licence holder accreditation. The first part will be offered and then on 2 June the Taxi Services Commission will assess the average metropolitan assignment price. If this is above $25k plus GST, the second part will be made available before 30 June. The VTA does not support the decision to release additional licences and are concerned that these actions will see the standard of taxi services decline, rather than improve. This is particularly alarming given the sustained increase in customer satisfaction, according Government survey results, over the last 3 years from a low of 53% to a current high of over 70%. D Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry Taxi licence lottery 8 | April 2014


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LICENCE One of the key reforms currently being implemented by the Taxi Services Commission (TSC) to complement the changes to taxi licensing is a revision of taxi licence zone boundaries. These boundaries are very important as they govern what areas of the state taxis can and cannot operate in. They also play an important role in determining the value of existing licences in these zones. In mid-February a Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) was released by the TSC which outlined three potential models for the revised zoning, including identification of a preferred model on which they are accepting feedback. The main change will be seen in areas outside of metropolitan Melbourne with removal of zone boundaries based on individual towns and the ability for licences to move anywhere within their licensed zone across the state. zones The VTA is currently working closely with a number of members who have identified some important customer service issues that will result from the proposed model and preparing a submission with associated revised proposed boundaries for the TSC to consider. The VTA encourages all industry participants with concerns about the proposed licence zone boundaries to make a submission in response to the RIS. D Mildura New Zones System Swan Hill Zone Metro Urban Regional Country Echuca Shepparton Wangaratta Benalla Horsham Bendigo Wodonga Ballarat Hamilton Melbourne Warrigal Geelong Warrnambool Portland Colac Traralgon Bairnsdale Sale 10 | April 2014 Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry


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During February, the VTA held its first round of region meetings for 2014 in the midst of the State Government’s reform implementation to the Victorian taxi industry. The meetings were held in Wangaratta, Geelong and Bendigo. The Gippsland meeting held in Moe was rescheduled to March due to smoke warnings. The meetings provided an opportunity for the VTA to bring members up-to-date with the reforms and what is expected in the next few months. Region The TSC also presented a session of their own prior to the VTA meetings. It was valuable for members to hear directly from the TSC on upcoming changes and other operational matters, given the fast pace of the State Government’s reform implementation. There was lively discussion on matters of regional significance. The main areas of concern were around the country price notification system, licence zones, and excessive entry and consumer tests. The next series of regional meetings will be in May. D MEETINGS Operators COLLECTIVE The first meeting of the Operators Collective was held in early March. The VTA opened up a new branch of membership to operators and licence holders last year and this was an opportunity for these new members to come together and discuss reform implementation, operational issues and elect a nominee to sit on the VTA Council. D For the best tyre value in town... come to Gaffney Tyres NEW TAXI TYRES 195 60R15 ..................$85 215 60R16 ..................$75 225 60R16 ................$105 225 55R17 ................$115 225 50R17 ................$115 235 45R17 ..................$90 235 60R17 (4WD TAXI) ..$135 195 R15LT ..................$90 195 R14LT ..................$90 185 R14LT .................$85 High mileage High performance Does your taxi pull to one side or wander all over the road? REPLACE EEN WINDSCR 0 from $15 Free when you purchase and fit 4 new taxi tyres. Free rotation after 10,000 kms Wheel Alignment and Balancing FREE FROM gwt_0214 2nd hand tyres from $40 l Hankook l Nexen l Wanli l Hi Fly l Minerva l Goform l Rotalla l Maxxis l Bridgestone l Dunlop l Achilles $ 135 Taxi Brakes from $70 Wheel Alignment $25 Wheel Balance Steel $5 Wheel Balance Aluminium $10 Puncture Repairs $15 TAXI SERVICE all prices include GST $ GAFFNEY WHEELS & TYRES 116 Gaffney Street, Coburg Open Mon-Fri 8am-6pm Sat 9am-3pm 9350 7265 Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry 60 12 | April 2014


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Driver of the Month This month’s photo of our Driver of the Month is Rod McKean. Rod has been doing stints driving cabs for more than eleven years for Phillip Island Taxis. He enjoys the company of Dept. of Veteran Affairs clients to and from medical appointments. Rod would like to see a better flagfall for the many short trips on the Island. D Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry April 2014 | 13


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REGION Phones What are these high level safety and financial risks? Eleanor Fitz Taxi Partner within Amalgamated Taxis Wodonga and VTA Country Taxi Council North-East Representative news & Zones Watch out as illogical aspects of the reforms “kick in”! The taxi reforms encourage the public to use their phones to make direct contact to taxi drivers for their booking and customised transport needs. Come July 1st drivers can disaffiliate with their former networks and develop their own mini network. The flawed theory behind this idea has not recognised that the concept carries some very high safety and financial risks for the potential independent drivers. A new reality is that some of these drivers will knowingly take on risks, whilst others may unknowingly place themselves in the path of a “hiding to nothing”. Looking at safety first, if a driver is formally affiliated to a network they can, in a duress situation, call their network and by using a network code or duress button in their vehicle, indicate that assistance may be needed, if they are heading into or have entered challenging or confronting situations (eg aggressive, violent and abusive behaviour by in-car customers). Equally, if whilst transporting passengers or on destination arrival, they encounter real unforseen danger and immediate survival is their focus (eg imminent robbery and physical attack). If they survive the threat they can, in the immediate aftermath, call for network assistance, who will instantly contact the emergency services for them. In both of these scenarios other nearby taxis in the alerted network system will go to the stricken driver, as will the police and other emergency services. Any disaffiliated network driver op- erating his/her own mini network would, in reality, have emergency services only as backup if they believe that assistance may be needed, or is immediately needed when they believe they are heading into or have entered challenging or confronting situations (eg aggressive, violent and abusive behaviour by in-car customers). As well the probability of them encountering real unforseen danger and immediate survival becomes their focus (eg imminent robbery and physical attack). To survive the threat they would have to make their own calls for assistance by calling 000. This stand-alone situation will inevitably see serious injury and death occur! Separate to the above, but strongly linked, is the risk of increased social angst against taxis. On one hand the drivers try to comply with the requirements to work independently and use their phones more, and on the other hand face regulator admonishments and cautioning regarding phone usage conditions and when customers are in the taxis. 14 | April 2014 Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry


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What are the high level financial risks for nonaffiliated taxi owneroperators and the reformed zones? For the non-affiliated owner-operators, fare evasion and taxi fare abuse will increase significantly as rogue customers (they are out there) move beyond their frequently attempted manipulations of the local networks (eg known fare evaders calling networks at different times as they try to avoid base operators familiar with their voices and history). From July 1 scammers will be able to call out-of-area networks and unaffiliated operators region or country taxi services to come and transport them to or from their destinations. Then on arrival, when their first, second, third+ debit or credit cards are rejected, they start to demonstrate “confusion” about the fare payment situation and start making all sorts of wild promises. The driver then either takes themselves and their passenger to the police or if the passenger refuses to accompany the driver to the police, the driver will need the police even more! Now aside from being scammed, the driver needs to spend time off the road filing an out-of-region police report. With a strong probability that the police will inform the driver that the scamming passenger is known to them and their chances of the driver getting their fare is zero! The cost to the driver then accelerates as the lost fare is compounded with extra fuel and operational costs on the return journey. Another unrecognised situation that is also guaranteed to arise, will be a taxi operator and he /she going to another region for a family working holiday – it will happen because come July 1st it can! How might it happen? The taxi driver and family drive the taxi to another region or country zone. The family then checks in at the local resort/accommodation venue. The driver, come July 1st, will, without any local knowledge, be able to work the shopping centres, rail or bus station etc and with a few hours work each day, provide a less than acceptable service to the customers of that region or country zone and at the same time fund the family holiday. Meanwhile back at home base the regular customers are short changed because their base community is one taxi short! The above examples show that regional and country taxi operators have some real and, one would hope, unintended challenges in front of them. The optimist in me hopes that logic might prevail and the impacts of Phones and Zones will be reviewed and amended. D HYBRID IS THE FUTURE! VISIT MELBOURNE CITY TOYOTA LOWER YOUR OPERATING COSTS WITH HYBRID AT CAMPAIGN RA E AVAILABL TES* FINANCE 621 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne VIC Call Jennie Mann on 9282 8888 or Email *T.A.P. Pics for illustration purposes only. E&OE. LMCT 10618. MCT109605 CALL US TODAY... April 2014 Taxi Talk - Voice of the Taxi Industry | 15



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