Taxi ser­vice trial

Myrtle­ford pair launches three month vi­a­bil­ity as­sess­ment

Myrtleford Times - - Front Page - BY JUSTIN JENVEY jjen­vey@ne­me­

MYRTLE­FORD doc­tor James Wei and his wife, Denise, are to launch on Mon­day a three-month trial to en­able them to as­sess de­mand for a re­vived alpine taxi ser­vice and its vi­a­bil­ity.

The Taxi Com­mis­sion has ap­proved and VicRoads this week li­censed the use of Dr Wei’s hy­brid car for the trial, in which the cou­ple will of­fer from Myrtle­ford a lim­ited- dis­tance Ovens Val­ley ser­vice.

They have en­gaged three driv­ers – Alan Muller, Gail Daw­son and Arnold Sparks – to staff a time-tabled ros­ter.

Pas­sen­gers will be able to ar­range taxi travel within Ovens Val­ley com­mu­ni­ties or to be taken to Wan­garatta, but the ser­vice will not be avail­able for travel to or from Mount Beauty at this stage.

Dr Wei, a doc­tor at Myrtle­ford’s Stan­dish Street Surgery for the past two and a half years, said the pair had be­come con­cerned about the ef­fect on one of their friends of the clo­sure of the for­mer Myrtle­ford taxi ser­vice late last year.

Their friend, a widow, had be­come solely re­liant on the good­will of friends or com­mu­nity vol­un­teers to help her travel in the com­mu­nity and far­ther afield.

The Weis also found that oth­ers, in­clud­ing those who were ei­ther el­derly or house­bound, faced sim­i­lar travel chal­lenges.

Dr Wei said the cou­ple sub­se­quently knocked on the door of the Wil­son fam­ily, who had run the for­mer ser­vice and con­tin­ued to hold the taxi li­cence, and had since ar­ranged to lease the li­cence for a nom­i­nal fee.

“We’d been re­ally im­pressed about how they had tried to keep it run­ning,” Dr Wei said.

“It had been in the hands of their par­ents for about two decades.

“So we con­tin­ued to think about it and to see if there were any so­lu­tions.

“We also talked to peo­ple in the com­mu­nity to get feedback about whether or not there was a com­mu­nity need.

“We wanted to in­volve the com­mu­nity in how the ser­vice might be run.”

The Weis then dis­trib­uted a survey in Myrtle­ford surgery, the town’s two phar­ma­cies and its bak­ery and post of­fice and gath­ered 120 re­sponses.

“About half were from the evening pub crowd, and the other half from peo­ple who were house­bound or el­derly,” Dr Wei said. “The re­sponse was pos­i­tive.” The Weis will as­sess ser­vice de­mand and vi­a­bil­ity dur­ing the three-month trial.

“We’ll then look at it again,” Dr Wei said. “I guess we do have a thresh­old and if it’s not re­ally break­ing even we’ll have to tell the com­mu­nity that we can’t do it. It has to be vi­able.”

The ser­vice will be avail­able Mon­day- Thurs­day 8am-5pm, Fri­day 8am-12am, Satur­day 8am-2pm and 6pm12am, and Sun­day 8am-2pm.

Pre-book­ings for next Mon­day’s start can be made by call­ing 0427 553 330 from to­mor­row (Thurs­day).

PHOTO: Jamie Kron­borg

OP­POR­TU­NITY: Denise and James Wei are re­viv­ing a Myrtle­ford-based taxi ser­vice with driv­ers Alan Muller, Gail Daw­son and Arnold Sparks with a three-month, lim­ited-dis­tance trial which is to start on Mon­day.

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