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Uber and the Victorian Taxi Industry

Melbourne / Victoria Transport Discussion

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Re: Uber in Melbourne

Postby V981 » Sat Feb 20, 2016 2:32 pm

I'll weigh in. I do need to declare that I have commercial arrangement with Uber in the form of my own company, Transport Innovations Melbourne.

It is a complicated issue, but there are few points that need to be made. The first being, the fact that taxi licenses have become a market commodity/investment with fluctuating pricing directly tied to supply and demand is really the basis of why the taxi industry is in the predicament that it currently finds itself in. Whilst I agree that some form of registration/permit process should be in place for any form of commercial passenger transport, it needs to be done fairly, and with a reasonable price structure attached to it. At the current moment, I can buy a 3 bedroom home in some areas of Melbourne and still have some change left over for the same price as a taxi license currently costs. This is absolutely wrong on all levels and this form of market pricing should be phased out as soon as possible.

Certainly in our research into this issue, we have concluded that an annual fee structure would work best for all involved. Operators of taxis and hire cars would pay an annual fee in order to hold a permit, and the price of said permit would vary depending on what form of transport you are operating, whether that be a taxi, a hire car (VHA/B Plates) or indeed an UberX vehicle. This process could quite easily be administered by the current authorizing body for taxis and hire cars, Taxi Services Victoria, in conjunction with Vic Roads. Of course, a regular mechanical and safety check should be required for all vehicles operating a passenger transport service.

While much noise has been made to date by the taxi industry that Uber is not a safe or trustworthy service, Uber drivers and their vehicles are required by Uber to meet the following requirements:

1. All Uber drivers are submited to a Criminal Background Check using CrimTrac, the same process Taxi Services Commission uses in providing taxi licences, hire car licenses, and Driver Certificates for all public buses. CrimTrac is authorized by each of the state police forces in Australia and by the Australian Federal Police.

2. All Uber drivers are submitted to a Driver Background Check through the roads and licensing authority applicable in the state which the driver will be operating in. In Victoria this is Vic Roads. Any applicant who has any drink/drug driving priors, serious speeding infringements and any criminal convictions relating to driving a vehicle is filtered out by Uber and not permitted to operate on the platform.

3. Uber Drivers are required to have a vehicle under a maximum of 9 years of age. This vehicle is submitted to an annual Roadworthy and safety check carried out by a Vic Roads approved motor mechanic independent of Uber. Uber pays for these inspections on behalf of their driver partners.

4. Uber operates on an 80/20 split with drivers in regards to fares. The driver keeps 80% and Uber takes 20% as its commission. Out of the income the driver makes, he is of course required to use some of that to fuel, clean, maintain his vehicle. The driver is also required under federal law to declare income through the Australian Tax Office. As of August 2015 Uber drivers are required to declare GST of 10% and pay that through the ATO, using the standard Business Activity Statement process that all small businesses in Australia are required to complete. Drivers are also required to pay the appropriate income tax, as per Australian Law. While there are some full time Uber drivers out there who seemingly make a good living on Uber, even after paying expenses, the majority of Uber drivers are part time people who use the Uber Platform to supplement their income. Many work other jobs in addition to Uber, either on a part time or full time basis. Our date suggests that approximately 70-75% of Uber drivers are part time on the platform.

5. If the Victorian Government comes to an arrangment similar to what New South Wales and Western Australia have come to, including fair and reasonable permit costs for all parties, there is absolutely no reason why Uber can't co-exist alongside traditional taxis. Ultimately this will enable consumers to have a choice between Yellow/Traditional taxis, UberX and VHA Hire Cars. This would provide healthy competition, and will ultimately result in the taxi industry also lifting its own service standards which has been a consistent issue in many states of Australia for at least a couple of decades.

Uber has also opened up a new form of employment for some 5000 Uber drivers who are registered in Victoria. Naturally, the more people out there who have valid employment and are making money, the more they spend, the better the overall economy in Australia becomes. Uber should not be seen as a threat, rather as a new format of doing things utilizing the smart phone technology we have today, and this in turn is creating a new degree of flexibility for both consumers and drivers.

Brad Woodford
Director - Transport Innovations Melbourne.
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Re: Uber in Melbourne

Postby Roderick Smith » Sat Feb 20, 2016 4:34 pm

Because, as I said, it was a regulated industry, and still is. Think of all those years when VR bleated about bus competition, and Adelaide tramways bleated about buses selling tickets to Pinnaroo, but letting people out at tram terminuses.
Try running your spare bedrooms as an unregulated brothel and see how far you get.

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Re: Uber and the Victorian Taxi Industry

Postby dex » Sun Feb 21, 2016 2:43 pm

Try running your spare bedrooms as an unregulated brothel and see how far you get

Hmmmm.....thanks for the tip! I'll let you know how I go.
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Re: Uber and the Victorian Taxi Industry

Postby krustyklo » Mon Feb 22, 2016 10:04 pm

Try running your spare bedrooms as an unregulated brothel and see how far you get.


Hopefully a professional brothel manager would not try to get very far at all... :lol:
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Re: Uber and the Victorian Taxi Industry

Postby Mitch » Mon Feb 22, 2016 10:57 pm

Alstom 888M wrote:Considering the Uber operates in locations where the taxis are of a reasonably higher quality I would say the "Melbourne taxis are crap" argument doesn't wash.


I'm gonna put in my two cents here.

Some time ago, after a night out, I had a conversation with a cab driver about his vehicle. He was a nice bloke, happy to make conversation. I asked him about the fuel gauge of the falcon he was driving (provided by 131008), as it was bouncing between having fuel, and being empty. He told me that the fuel gauge was broken and he had to calculate how much further he had to go before he ran out of fuel as it was an unreliable indication. He also told me that it was an issue amongst many of the vehicles in the fleet.

Fast forward to mid November last year. I'd just gotten off a plane from Bandar Seri Begawan, a connecting flight from London Heathrow and Dubai. Hail a cab from the arrivals rank at Melbourne International. I had to direct the driver (who knew very little English) to Gowanbrae. Two suburbs over. Once arriving, I had to get my partner to get out and open my door as the handle on the inside of my door was broken. Meanwhile the cab's check engine, ABS and airbag warning lights were all illuminated.

Many a time have I heard stories of cab drivers taking the long way, being abusive to passengers and having a complete disregard for the law.

I wholeheartedly agree with the argument that Melbourne taxis are crap. Don't get me wrong it's not across the whole board but the argument can definitely be applied to the majority of the taxi industry.

I spent ten days in London where Uber is legal and regulated. Every Uber vehicle has a taxicab plate and is regulated to the exact same level as the hackney cabs are. But Uber is a lot more popular in the UK because of the options it gives you. You can split your fare, you know who your driver is and what the cab is, and you know exactly where it's going to take you.

I don't agree that Uber should be operating unlicensed, no. I think they should operate to the same legality as regular taxicabs. But the taxi conglomerate that is 13CABS and 131008 finally has some competition that has pushed further into people's minds the lack of quality in Melbourne yellow cabs, and I think that's a good thing.

Thanks,
Mitch :)
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Re: Uber and the Victorian Taxi Industry

Postby Alstom 888M » Tue Feb 23, 2016 11:19 am

I'm not for one second suggesting that Melbourne taxis are anything other than absolutely disgraceful. Every time I see a car in that horrendous off-yellow I prepare for evasive action in anticipation that it will do something stupid. Uber drivers seem to by contrast be a little more restrained and a little more personal as opposed to chatting on the phone to their friends and family overseas. Probably because they know I'll rate them poorly which you can't do in a taxi.

What I am suggesting is that Melbourne on a worldwide scale has a particularly poor taxi service and that is the case because the regulation is designed to put the industry before it's customers. The experiences I have had in other cities have been a lot better.

Your comment about Uber in London is flawed: An Uber vehicle with a taxicab plate and properly regulated is known as "Uber Black". "Uber X" is some Average Joe driving his Vauxhill Astra around. "Uber Black" is also available in Melbourne and entirely legal as it is a licensed VHA plated hire car.

The Taxi industry needs serious reform. As in it seriously needs a fundamental rebuild from the top down. But I don't think handing full control of the Industry (which is of course Uber's ultimate goal) to a foreign company that has already made itself clear that it will not abide by local laws, is a fundamentally good idea.
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Re: Uber in Melbourne

Postby BroadGauge » Tue Feb 23, 2016 9:50 pm

V981 wrote:I'll weigh in. I do need to declare that I have commercial arrangement with Uber in the form of my own company, Transport Innovations Melbourne.

Seeing as you're the Uber expert here, can you tell me how I can somehow get an UberX to pick me up at Melbourne Airport? I would love to use their service but the airport and everything else on their land is blacked out in the app :evil:

Unfortunately the option of just slumming it and catching a cab just for trips from the airport isn't suitable for me as I don't like ending a nice holiday by being in a car driven by some moron abusing me because he doesn't like my destination and hearing about how I'm causing his family to be impoverished because I didn't "find some other way home" :roll:

Last time I flew home, I caught the 901 bus to Gladstone Park and booked an Uber to take me home from there, and scored a good driver which worked out being $20 cheaper than the cab fare from the airport, but surely there has to be an easier workaround then having to go out of my way just to book a ride home.
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Re: Uber in Melbourne

Postby V981 » Tue Feb 23, 2016 10:55 pm

BroadGauge wrote:
V981 wrote:I'll weigh in. I do need to declare that I have commercial arrangement with Uber in the form of my own company, Transport Innovations Melbourne.

Seeing as you're the Uber expert here, can you tell me how I can somehow get an UberX to pick me up at Melbourne Airport? I would love to use their service but the airport and everything else on their land is blacked out in the app :evil:

Unfortunately the option of just slumming it and catching a cab just for trips from the airport isn't suitable for me as I don't like ending a nice holiday by being in a car driven by some moron abusing me because he doesn't like my destination and hearing about how I'm causing his family to be impoverished because I didn't "find some other way home" :roll:

Last time I flew home, I caught the 901 bus to Gladstone Park and booked an Uber to take me home from there, and scored a good driver which worked out being $20 cheaper than the cab fare from the airport, but surely there has to be an easier workaround then having to go out of my way just to book a ride home.


At this stage, UberX is blackbanned from Melbourne Airport as the airport is on Federal Land. There is a chance this may change once UberX becomes formally legislated in Victoria. But in the meantime, officially, the only way to get an Uber from Melbourne Aiport is to order an UberBlack which of course, is alot more costly.

Unofficially, the way some people are getting around this is by moving the location pin to a location just outside the airport, say Melrose Drive Airport West, booking the UberX, then immediately contacting the driver to inform them that you are actually at the airport. You will find most UberX drivers are happy to then meet you at the airport, as long as you give them clear and precise instructions as to where exactly in the airport precinct you are standing.

This has been a way that several people that I know have worked around the Melbourne Airport blackspot. Hope that helps. :
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Re: Uber and the Victorian Taxi Industry

Postby Alstom 888M » Wed Feb 24, 2016 10:54 am

But UberX is banned everywhere else. Why is the airport a special case? In all honesty the airport is probably the one place I would most prefer Uber over a Taxi.
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Re: Uber and the Victorian Taxi Industry

Postby V981 » Wed Feb 24, 2016 7:18 pm

Alstom 888M wrote:But UberX is banned everywhere else. Why is the airport a special case? In all honesty the airport is probably the one place I would most prefer Uber over a Taxi.


As I stated in my previous comment, it is on Federal land. Federal laws prevent anything other than a so called legitimate taxi being permitted on airport property for the purpose of picking up paying passengers. Everywhere else falls under Victorian State law.
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Re: Uber and the Victorian Taxi Industry

Postby Alstom 888M » Thu Feb 25, 2016 5:09 pm

That still does not make much sense to me, so are you telling me that Uber is above State Law but not Federal Law? That's like me saying "I will obey traffic lights within the airport but to hell with everywhere else". Makes no sense.
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Re: Uber and the Victorian Taxi Industry

Postby V981 » Thu Feb 25, 2016 9:18 pm

Alstom 888M wrote:That still does not make much sense to me, so are you telling me that Uber is above State Law but not Federal Law? That's like me saying "I will obey traffic lights within the airport but to hell with everywhere else". Makes no sense.


I guess basically, Uber merely wants to shake the tree when it comes to the taxi industry and its right to operate legitimately within that industry. There is nothing to gain in pissing off people who have nothing to do with your end cause. I guess this would explain why Uber is willing to ignore the current taxi regulations, which of course are a state and territory issue anyway, where as the Federal laws, perhaps Uber is willing to abide by those laws as it would achieve nothing by violating them.
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Re: Uber and the Victorian Taxi Industry

Postby BroadGauge » Sun Feb 28, 2016 3:10 pm

Does this long wait time for an Uber allow for a special sailing of the barge to operate to get the car onto French Island? I wonder what directions the app would tell the driver to take to get there.

Screenshot_2016-02-28-00-44-04.png
Screenshot_2016-02-28-00-44-04.png (115.72 KiB) Viewed 3747 times

I think the app must have changed recently as in some areas it now allows for an UberX to be booked even when the nearest car is 20+ minutes away, previously the longest "wait time" was about 9 minutes, otherwise it would show "No Uber available". There doesn't seem to be any set boundary for what area the cars service.
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Re: Uber and the Victorian Taxi Industry

Postby dex » Tue Mar 01, 2016 4:57 pm

There doesn't seem to be any set boundary for what area the cars service

Unlike Taxis who have a boundary, anything beyond the 15km radius of the airport.
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Re: Uber and the Victorian Taxi Industry

Postby V981 » Thu Mar 03, 2016 8:14 pm

dex wrote:
There doesn't seem to be any set boundary for what area the cars service

Unlike Taxis who have a boundary, anything beyond the 15km radius of the airport.


I believe you are right Broadgauge, Uber have recently relaxed the boundaries on the app to allow people to book cars that might be further away than the previous 9-10 minute limit. Some customer research done recently suggested many customers were willing to wait upto 15-20 minutes for an Uber car on a busy night, as long as they know the car is coming. Many customers like Uber simply because once a car is allocated to their booking, they can track its progress and Uber has a very reliable rate of cars actually showing up to the booking. Too often with taxis, a car might be allocated to a booking, the passenger waits, only to find the taxi driver has cancelled the request because he has found a better fare or he simply does not want to do the one initially allocated to him.
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Re: Uber and the Victorian Taxi Industry

Postby Swift » Mon Mar 14, 2016 2:22 pm

Continue your nice little free advertorial.
I'll have people know that taxis are making a resurgence in San Francisco. Rideshare had attracted people who would never have considered driving people around as a career choice but with deminishing earnings and experience with the job, realised they were better off driving a cab.
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Re: Uber and the Victorian Taxi Industry

Postby V981 » Mon Mar 14, 2016 8:45 pm

Swift wrote:Continue your nice little free advertorial.
I'll have people know that taxis are making a resurgence in San Francisco. Rideshare had attracted people who would never have considered driving people around as a career choice but with deminishing earnings and experience with the job, realised they were better off driving a cab.


Does San Francisco have a seriously broken, embarrassing and abhorrent taxi network like Melbourne? :twisted:
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Re: Uber and the Victorian Taxi Industry

Postby notch » Tue Mar 15, 2016 3:37 pm

Does it matter? This thread's as stale as the ubiquitous bottle of Uber driver piss.

The only way you can pick an Uber driver on the roads is to look for a new car driving just as dangerously and illegally as a taxi driver.
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Re: Uber and the Victorian Taxi Industry

Postby Swift » Tue Mar 15, 2016 9:50 pm

Many non taxi/ rideshare drivers commonly drive dangerously too, so that puts paid to your theory on spotting them easily.
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Re: Uber and the Victorian Taxi Industry

Postby dex » Wed Mar 16, 2016 4:57 pm

Didn't you know all taxis are yellow, so you can spot the hazard easily, although I was cut off by a taxi driver this morning who promptly gave me the finger after I braked and rolled my eyes, funny how unresponsive he was when I pulled up next to him and gave him me reply.
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Re: Uber and the Victorian Taxi Industry

Postby Alstom 888M » Wed Mar 16, 2016 8:23 pm

Swift wrote:Many non taxi/ rideshare drivers commonly drive dangerously too, so that puts paid to your theory on spotting them easily.


There's a certain way of driving. Illegal u-turns, letting people on/off in the middle of the road, you're average hoon doesn't generally do these.

I can somewhat accurately (perhaps 75%) predict the sex, ethnicity, approximate age, and socio-economic status by using a combination of the car they drive and more importantly by the way they drive. When you spend most of your life driving around the city, if you are at all observant, you pick up on these traits, mostly their bad habits.

I know when I see an Uber. I just know.
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Re: Uber and the Victorian Taxi Industry

Postby V981 » Wed Mar 16, 2016 8:35 pm

notch wrote:Does it matter? This thread's as stale as the ubiquitous bottle of Uber driver piss.

The only way you can pick an Uber driver on the roads is to look for a new car driving just as dangerously and illegally as a taxi driver.


Yet, ironically, people are still actively consuming this thread.

To answer your question, yes it does matter. Because to a certain degree, the success of Uber in each city around the world is being guided in part by the quality of the existing taxi network in that city. Put simply, the more abhorrent the taxi service is, the more likely people are to try the alternatives, e.g. Uber. This in turn leads to Uber being more successful in these cities. Melbourne is a prime example.
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Re: Uber and the Victorian Taxi Industry

Postby Swift » Wed Mar 16, 2016 11:13 pm

Alstom 888M wrote:
Swift wrote:Many non taxi/ rideshare drivers commonly drive dangerously too, so that puts paid to your theory on spotting them easily.


There's a certain way of driving. Illegal u-turns, letting people on/off in the middle of the road, you're average hoon doesn't generally do these.

I can somewhat accurately (perhaps 75%) predict the sex, ethnicity, approximate age, and socio-economic status by using a combination of the car they drive and more importantly by the way they drive. When you spend most of your life driving around the city, if you are at all observant, you pick up on these traits, mostly their bad habits.

I know when I see an Uber. I just know.

Maybe you think you got a gift, I don't know but I have been seeing all those behaviors from private regular cars on a common basis years before the existence of Rideshare. They are called garden variety Australian motorists.
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Re: Uber and the Victorian Taxi Industry

Postby Roderick Smith » Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:00 am

Disability groups fear Uber green light could leave them stranded Date March 22, 2016 - Melbourne 'Age'.
Uber driver refuses blind man's guide dog.
As Uber gets the green light, the ride-sharing service is still negotiating its relationship with the disabled community. This customer took video of the driver who wouldn't take him and his dog.
Thirteen disability groups have issued a joint plea to Jacinta Allan, Victoria's public transport minister, not to legalise Uber unless the ride-share service makes a legally binding commitment to serve passengers in wheelchairs.
The groups warn that if Uber is allowed to become more dominant in the market it will inevitably lure many drivers of wheelchair-accessible taxis to its business, leaving people with disabilities stranded.
This has been the experience in Uber's home city, San Francisco, where the number of journeys by wheelchair-accessible taxis plunged 44 per cent in 2014, as drivers abandoned traditional taxi work for ride sharing, the letter to Ms Allan states.
Disability groups have voiced their concerns about ride-sharing company Uber.
Uber currently has no wheelchair-accessible taxis in Victoria, only the less comprehensive UberAssist service for people with fold-up wheelchairs.
"Uber's proposal that ride-sharing companies be left to develop their own 'policies' in relation to accessibility will do nothing to ensure that people with a disability will be able to use the service," the letter states.
Signatories include the Australian Quadriplegic Association, the Council on the Ageing Australia, Disability Employment Australia, Yooralla and the Youth Disability Advocacy Service.
George Taleporos, manager of Youth Disability Advocacy Service, said people in wheelchairs already endured unreliable service and there was no evidence Uber would meet the industry's already poor standards unless forced to by law.
"Around 20,000 Victorians rely on wheelchair accessible taxis as their only means of point-to-point transportation," Dr Taleporos said.
"Without this, we can't get to school, to work, to essential medical appointments or visit family and friends. Currently, the service is unreliable with long waiting times during peak hours and we are concerned that this will only get worse as ride sharing continues to erode the taxi market," he said.
The letter calls for a mandated commitment that at least five per cent of Uber vehicles be wheelchair-accessible, extending the government subsidy for wheelchair taxis to Uber, and the introduction of a levy on all ride-sharing trips to help pay for this.
On this point, Uber agreed, arguing that extending the Multi Purpose Taxi Program subsidy to UberAssist would reduce costs for the government by about 20 per cent.
"We are keen to work with the Victorian government on using ride sharing to improve accessibility for all communities, including looking at how existing subsidy programs could be opened up to incorporate ride-sharing services," Uber Victoria's general manager, Matt Denman, said.
Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan says the government is still considering options for ride sharing. Photo: Joe Armao Jacinta Allan said the state government was still working through the issues regarding potential legalisation of Uber, including its impact on people for whom taxis are the sole form of transport, and would be not rushed into a decision.
"The impact ride-share services could have on transport for people with disabilities is critically important and something we are considering closely right now," Ms Allan said.
Blind people left stranded.
A blind man has caught on film the moment an Uber driver refused him access to his car, because he was with his seeing-eye dog Valdez.
The blind man, Daniel Svoboda, was left stranded on the side of the street near his Mitcham home, then charged a $10 cancellation fee. The Uber driver refused to take him to the Eastland shopping centre.
The incident, which took place last week, has led Uber to agree to work with Guide Dogs Victoria to create extra training for its drivers about the needs of people with guide dogs.
It is illegal for a taxi driver or an Uber driver to refuse a passenger because he has a guide dog.
Karen Hayes, chief executive of Guide Dogs Victoria, said the organisation had worked with 13Cabs to improve driver understanding of the issue, and now would do the same with Uber.
"We just need to extend knowledge of the impact refusal has on clients," Ms Hayes said. "It's humiliating, it can impact on confidence and make some hesitant about whether they should go out in future."
A Guide Dogs Victoria survey last year found 46 per cent of guide dog handlers had been denied access or questioned when attempting to access a taxi.
Uber said drivers who refused to transport a guide dog could lose access to the app that connects them with customers. Mr Svododa was later refunded his $10.
Ms Allan said the incident was shocking and unacceptable.
"Reports that Uber drivers are rejecting people with assistance animals is shocking and unacceptable," she said. "They, like all companies, have a responsibility to ensure people with disabilities are not discriminated against."
The issue of poor service to blind customers is not confined to Uber.
John Hardie and his seeing eye dog Heidi at their Narre Warren home. Photo: Penny Stephens John Hardie, a blind cancer patient from Narre Warren, said he had been left stranded numerous times in recent months, after Cabcharge bought out smaller taxi operator Dandenong Taxis in September.
Mr Hardie relies on taxis as his only means of transport, and said he regularly spent 12 to 15 minutes on hold each time he booked one. Previously, he spent an average of one to three minutes on hold.
He has missed important medical appointments because of the delays, he said.
Cabcharge managing director Stuart Overell acknowledged Mr Hardie had suffered poor service. He said there had been "technology issues" when Dandenong Taxis' call centre switched to the 13Cabs call centre.
"We did anticipate some transitional challenges but it's been a couple of months now so we're pretty confident most of those would have gone," Mr Overell said.
Mr Hardie said hold times when he booked a cab were still unacceptably long.
www.theage.com.au/victoria/disability-g ... nnz1f.html
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Re: Uber and the Victorian Taxi Industry

Postby Swift » Wed Mar 23, 2016 3:34 pm

^That's what you get when you decide it is suddenly okay to discard the regulatory framework that has been developed over over a long time just because a mob worth billions of dollars moves in on the game. They operate an openly illegal poory thought out rideshare service and an ineffectual NSW government decides its too hard to deal with and throws it's arms in the air saying they would operate anyway.
Why not legalise pot and snorting coke on that basis since people are going to do it anyway??
Instead of disbanding the regulatory framework of taxis, wouldn't be more sensible to work on better enforcement and action on taxis that disobey the rules ?
Services like Uberx aren't a magic cure to the problems of unscrupulous taxi drivers. Any taxi type service needs rules and their proper enforcement for a decent transportation service.
The number of taxis or rideshare vehicles has to be controlled or else an oversupply leads to drivers not earning enough to make it worthwhile and pressure to earn more leads to more accidents.
People who expect a taxi to screech to a halt the very minute they hail or hang up their phone in peak demand times need a reality check and so does the government.
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