Taxi glut drives call to buy back licences
HOBART has too many taxis and the Government should cut back licences to allow operators to make a decent living, independent federal MP Andrew Wilkie says.
Describing the state of the industry as “a mess” Mr Wilkie said an oversupply of taxis and competition from ride-sharing meant operators were suffering.
“It’s self-evident that the taxi industry in Hobart is on its knees,” Mr Wilkie said.
“The Government has sold way too many plates over the years — all to make a buck for the Treasury — to the point now where there are at least twice as many taxis that are needed in a city this size.
“Uber drivers can lift their fares when demand is high but taxi drivers do not have that option. Once upon a time, they made up to $400 a day but now they are lucky to earn $140 working 12 to 14 hours.
“That’s less than the minimum wage. The State Government must create a level playing field and undo the mess it has created.”
Taxi driver Ewen Bleathman paid $88,000 for his owner-operator taxi plate and he now values it between $20,000 and $30,000.
“Too many cabs on the roads mean cab drivers were struggling to make a living. We need help. People are suffering,” he said.
“Drivers have no home life, they’re in the cab trying to make a living 24/7.”
“Five or 10 years ago we were we were earning a living. At the moment, it’s not good.
“You’d probably earn $280, $300 five years ago — that’s working 12 or 14 hours a day. Now, working 14 hours a day, you’d be lucky to earn $150 a day.
Mr Wilkie said Mr Bleathman’s story was typical for the industry and demonstrated why the State Government needed to stop new taxi plates and introduce a buyback scheme.
Infrastructure Minister Michael Ferguson said the Government was aware of the problem.
“We’ve already previously indicated that part of our measures is in fact, the moratorium on new plates. Now the moratorium has expired and we’re currently looking at that again.”