Friday, November 6, 2009

Irresponsible Reporting regarding Taxi Drivers published in the Sunday Telegraph September 06, 2009

Incorporating Bailee Drivers, Owner Drivers and Lessee Drivers
P.O. Box 322 Alexandria, NSW 2015
President: Anne Turner Secretary: Faruque Ahmed
0432 665 822 0431 585 944

Media Release: Irresponsible Reporting regarding Taxi Drivers published in the Sunday Telegraph September 06, 2009.

The NSW Taxi Drivers Association does not condone the illegal practices as alleged in the above article. We acknowledge that there are a small number of Taxi drivers (so called “cowboys”) that may be doing the wrong thing. This minority groups invariably turn up late at night where there are large crowds and little or no alternative transport so as to deliberately take advantage of desperate passengers. The Authorities must take action to stop these practices that are damaging to our industry.

The vast majority (20,000 plus) of Taxi drivers are professionals and as such would welcome the removal of these so called “cowboys”. The NSWTDA encourages all passengers to lodge complaints against drivers who commit these illegal practices. The sooner they are removed, the better for all in the Taxi industry.

Most professional drivers avoid these areas late at night because of past bad experiences. Fare evasion is a very large problem, especially with groups of young male passengers. The risk of being assaulted is also of great concern. Passengers who have consumed excessive alcohol often become argumentative and aggressive – this is an all too common occurrence. As a result of their drinking they are often sick in the cab and vomit or urinate. The poor driver usually misses out on several fares while he or she cleans the cab and gets rid of the stench – usually at his or her own expense. A bad fare can be a financial disaster with the driver working a 12 hour shift for little or no profit.

As the article points out, there are legitimate reasons why a driver can refuse a fare. These are not “loopholes”, they are legitimate rules for very sound and practical reasons. The reporters failed to acknowledge that the drivers who refused them may have had a perfectly legitimate reason for doing so, instead of just marking them down as “refused”. There are also circumstances where a fare can be negotiated. Another problem at that time of the morning (1am-3am) is that most cabs change over shifts at 3am. If a cab is based in a distant suburb and is due there at 3am it is understandable that drivers are reluctant to take a fare in the opposite direction and therefore attempt to seek out a passenger traveling their way. A driver can be penalized for being late for change over, as another driver is then paying to hire the cab.

There is also the case where a Taxi is pre-booked, either by arrangement with the driver or a radio booking from the base. In such cases the driver is correct in refusing other passengers and sometimes has great difficulty in locating the correct passenger. In crowded locations this can become very confusing. Passengers are forever trying to “pinch” someone else’s cab.

Another major problem in the Kings Cross area is the lack of Taxi zones for picking up and setting down passengers. If the Authorities were serious in solving Taxi related problems in this area they would increase the number of safe, secure ranks as proposed by the NSWTDA. These ranks work extremely well in the few areas that they have been established.

The NSWTDA is very concerned with the Sunday Telegraph reporters publishing the number plates of cabs that they claimed were doing the wrong thing. Unfortunately a cab is usually hired by up to 6 different drivers per week and this action may unfairly penalize drivers that were not responsible. The article fails to mention this.

It would be refreshing to read a balanced article on the Taxi industry instead of the same old blatant sensationalism as published in this article. As the old saying goes…..don’t let the facts get in the way of the story!!!

Anne Turner
President, NSWTDA, September 7, 2009

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