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Taxi operators feel threat

VIOLENCE and fare evasion are most often reported as the biggest problems facing taxi drivers, but in regional Queensland it is courtesy buses and illegal taxis that spell trouble for businesses.

They make running cabs less viable in rural centres, but Taxi Council Queensland chief Benjamin Wash said passengers were unlikely to notice until the service became extinct.

Mr Wash has just returned from a state-wide regional tour, which included Mackay.

He said removing the threat courtesy buses posed to rural taxi businesses was about working with local communities.

Operators needed to form strong connections with other business members, including joining Chamber of Commerce groups and approaching publicans or aged care homes directly.

Mr Wash said courtesy buses had to meet strict government guidelines and criteria, which taxi drivers already had covered.

He said using taxis meant they would not have to pay out expenses for a car or a driver who was paid whether or not the bus was used.

Mr Wash said illegal taxi work was when someone turned up after a busy night or footy grand final and offered to take people home for $5 a head.

He encouraged operators to gather evidence to present to the transport office, which could then move forward on compliance.

"In Brisbane, where there are 2000 taxis and 2 million population, illegal taxis don't affect the bottom line as much. But even in regional centres with 50,000 to 100,000 people, illegal work hurts.

"I see my role as advocating for those things that hit the bottom line, trying to remove people who are cutting into their business in illegal ways and way that don't help the community.

"The cost of running the cab in a regional area is the same, if not more, than metro areas but they have a much smaller market.

"They pay $7000 a year for compulsory third party insurance on a sedan, which is the same in Brisbane, but the ability to cover costs in Brisbane is much higher.

Mr Wash said he was in discussions with the Treasurer's office about reviewing this expense for regional cabbies. He said he hoped to ramp up services to ensure regional operators got the same attention as their city counterparts.

Topics:  business courtesy bus regional queensland taxi drivers



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