Taxi to make its last run

Nagam­bie ser­vice to fin­ish up due to fi­nan­cial pres­sures

Euroa Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - BY WILL MUR­RAY ed­i­

THE owner of Nagam­bie Taxis an­nounced this week that they will be run­ning their last ser­vices on Septem­ber 2, cit­ing the in­creas­ing fi­nan­cial pres­sures on the busi­ness as the rea­son for shut­ting it down.

Damian Mur­phy, who also op­er­ates the taxi ser­vice in Euroa, said that op­er­at­ing in Nagam­bie was no longer fi­nan­cially vi­able, and with the po­ten­tial levy on all taxi rides (‘Uber tax’) the cause of more un­cer­tainty in the in­dus­try, he has made the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to close it down.

“The re­al­ity is that the Nagam­bie taxi ser­vice is sim­ply no longer vi­able, es­pe­cially if we will be charged an ex­tra dol­lar or two on ev­ery ride in the future. Some­times you just have to make tough busi­ness de­ci­sions” Mr Mur­phy told the Gazette.

“We have been just break- ing even for a while now, and we were keep­ing it go­ing be­cause we had such a great driver over there in Nagam­bie.

“Once he de­cided to call it a day be­cause he wasn’t mak­ing the kind of money he used to, we de­cided we wouldn’t look for a new driver, and in­stead just shut it down.”

Mr Mur­phy started op­er­at­ing taxis around 10 years ago, and at that time couldn’t have fore­seen the im­mense dis­rup­tion to the in­dus­try that ride- shar­ing busi­nesses would bring.

The value of taxi li­censes, which many own­ers pur­chased for hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in the hope they would in­crease in val­ue­gen­er­at­ing a healthy as­set to on-sell when the time came to re­tire- have been slashed to a frac­tion of the price since the in­dus­try be­came de-reg­u­lated.

Fur­ther­more, the Vic­to­rian Govern­ment is cur­rently ne­go­ti­at­ing in par­lia­ment a levy on all rides to re­coup some of their losses from buy­ing back those heav­ily de-val­ued li­cences.

While this levy has been suc­cess­fully re­duced from $2 per ride to $1, the Greens and Coali­tion have so far been un­suc­cess­ful in hav­ing coun­try towns ex­empted from the ex­tra charges.

With­out ride-shar­ing busi­nesses like Uber op­er­at­ing in coun­try towns like Nagam­bie, op­er­a­tors like Damian Mur­phy feel like they are be­ing made to sub­sidise changes to in­dus­try con­di­tions that do not af­fect their busi­ness.

“Uber doesn’t op­er­ate in Nagam­bie or Euroa, yet we are still likely to be hit with a levy,” Mr Mur­phy said.

“We rely on tak­ing peo­ple to and from the ac­com­mo­da­tion in Nagam­bie to the var­i­ous venues like the En­ter­tain­ment Cen­tre.

“Un­like Euroa, where we do a lot of day time runs down to the med­i­cal clinic or to the shops for older peo­ple who qual­ify for sub­si­dies, in Nagam­bie we will have to pass the full costs onto cus­tomers.

“The in­tro­duc­tion of Uber, new taxes, and the de­val­u­a­tion of li­cences has also meant taxis have taken a rep­u­ta­tional hit. Peo­ple look at them now as sec­ond rate.

“When things are tight and you are just get­ting by dayto-day, you can’t af­ford these hits to your busi­ness.”

The clos­ing of the taxi ser­vice is ‘ter­ri­ble’ news for busi­nesses like the Nagam­bie En­ter­tain­ment Cen­tre, who have come to rely on the taxis to ferry pa­trons to and from the venue.

“We use the taxi as a shut­tle bus from the car­a­van parks or other ac­com­mo­da­tion where a large por­tion of our cus­tomers stay,” a spokesper­son for the En­ter­tain­ment Cen­tre said.

“Although Nagam­bie is only a small town dur­ing winter, these places add another 10,000 peo­ple ev­ery sum­mer, and that’s how we get a lot of our busi­ness, by mak­ing it eas­ier for them to make the trip to and from here.

“To op­er­ate one our­selves would cost around $120,000 per year, which we sim­ply can’t af­ford.

“So when we heard that the taxi would no longer be op­er­at­ing that was a huge blow for us, and I think it will be a big im­pact on the whole town.”

Deputy Leader of the Na­tion­als Steph Ryan (MLA) said that the clo­sure of the Nagam­bie taxi ser­vice was an ex­am­ple of how the State Govern­ment’s un­fair laws were mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble for coun­try op­er­a­tors to con­tinue.

“Coun­try taxis should not be pay­ing for the govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to le­galise Uber in Mel­bourne. That’s com­pletely un­fair,” Ms Ryan said.

“Not only is it un­fair to peo­ple like Damian Mur­phy and the drivers who own and op­er­ate the taxis, but also to those who rely on them- the lo­cal busi­nesses and peo­ple of the town.

“Taxis are es­pe­cially im­por­tant to the el­derly and the dis­ad­van­taged in our towns, who can no longer drive or can’t af­ford a car of their own. They rely on the taxis to get them to the shops, or to their doc­tors’ ap­point­ments.

“I worry about what they will do now.”

A TOUGH DE­CI­SION: Nagam­bie and Euroa Taxis owner Damian Mur­phy has had to close the Nagam­bie arm of the busi­ness due to in­creas­ing eco­nomic pres­sures, in­clud­ing the de­val­u­a­tion of taxi li­cences and the in­tro­duc­tion of new levies.

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