Taxi ser­vice trial is strug­gling, at only 54 per cent of ca­pac­ity

Alpine Observer - - News - By JAMIE KRONBORG

AN at­tempt by Myrtle­ford’s James and Denise Wei to re­vive a com­mu­nity taxi ser­vice may come to noth­ing un­less it se­cures a sig­nif­i­cant jump in fare pick-ups.

The Myrtle­ford doc­tor and his wife – who launched a three­month trial on Au­gust 21 to en­able them to test de­mand for cab hire in Alpine Shire’s main Ovens Val­ley com­mu­ni­ties – told the Times Ob­server last week that the trial was slated to fail given the cur­rent level of hir­ing.

“Five to six weeks in we are run­ning at 54 per cent ca­pac­ity of what the ser­vice used to be prior to it shut­ting down in De­cem­ber, 2016, and bleed­ing $1000 per month just for op­er­a­tional costs,” Dr Wei said.

“In the past three weeks hir­ing has es­sen­tially stag­nated.”

The Weis set out to as­sess the need for a lo­cal ser­vice by ar­rang­ing with the Wil­son fam­ily, which op­er­ated Myrtle­ford’s former taxi ser­vice, to lease their still-valid car­riage li­cence.

The cou­ple also made a hy­brid car avail­able for the trial and se­cured the nec­es­sary Taxi Com­mis­sion and VicRoads’ ap­provals.

“We have pro­moted our­selves to all com­mu­nity groups, launched a cam­paign to as­sist clients through the com­plex ap­pli­ca­tion process for a taxi sub­sidy card, and also ag­gres­sively tar­geted the tourist mar­ket,” Dr Wei said.

“It is cer­tainly our hope that things will pick up in the next few weeks, but it if does not we will have to pull the plug.

“We have also ap­pealed to the com­bined ser­vice clubs to see if they are able to as­sist us fi­nan­cially to ex­tend the trial to six to nine months to en­able it to reach its full po­ten­tial.

“In this case, we re­ally need the sup­port of the com­mu­nity if this is go­ing to work out.

“If we are able to re­store the ser­vice, back to where it was prior to its abrupt clo­sure nine months ago, the ser­vice will ac­tu­ally run at an op­er­a­tional profit of $20,000 per an­num.

“This will en­able us to re-in­vest (the profit) into the ser­vice to ex­pand it across the shire.”

The Weis’ lim­ited-dis­tance trial has in­cluded ser­vice to and from Bright, Wandiligong, Pore­punkah, Myrtle­ford and Wan­garatta but not Mount Beauty.

The pair also en­gaged three driv­ers – Alan Muller, Arnold Sparks and Gail Daw­son – to staff the ser­vice on a time-tabled ros­ter Mon­day-Thurs­day 8am-5pm, Fri­day 8am-12am, Satur­day 8am-2pm and 6pm-12am, and Sun­day 8am-2pm.

Mr Muller told the Times Ob­server that the trial had started well late in Au­gust and had en­joyed good de­mand dur­ing Myrtle­ford’s and Bright’s re­cent sport­ing sea­son fi­nals, but up­take had be­come patchy day-to-day.

Dr Wei said at the trial’s start that the ser­vice had to be vi­able for it to con­tinue.

“I guess we do have a thresh­old and if it’s not re­ally break­ing even (at the trial’s end) we’ll have to tell the com­mu­nity that we can’t do it,” he said at the time.

The Weis said they were grate­ful for the com­mu­nity’s sup­port so far.

They said Roni Bonacci and Suzette Kelly from Myrtle­ford Mo­tor Doc­tor re­cently do­nated ser­viced the taxi as a do­na­tion.

Taxi book­ings for the re­main­der of the trial can be made on 0427 553 330.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.