Taxi service trial
Myrtleford pair launches three month viability assessment
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).
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.