Taxi to make its last run
Nagambie service to finish up due to financial pressures
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.