TWO extra taxi licences are up for grabs in Wodonga — but the city’s drivers aren’t all convinced it’s for the best.
While drivers and passengers agree it will be good for the community, some in the industry say they ought to have been consulted first.
Victorian Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder announced this week the new licences would join the 10 conventional and five wheelchair-accessible taxis in the Wodonga taxi-cab zone.
The 12-month, conventional licences would ensure both types of taxis would be available in areas that needed them most, Mr Mulder said.
Customers outside Wodonga Plaza early on Tuesday were pleased with the news, but some drivers were sceptical.
One driver, who did not wish to be named, said two licences “probably wouldn’t hit business too much but they would affect the nine drivers in Wodonga who owned their taxis outright in other ways.
“It’s typical of the state government to do this without notifying stakeholders,” he said.
“I bought my taxi on the open market and paid quite a bit of money for it.
“It was all government regulated.
“They are effectively de-regulating the system and giving licences away for nothing.”
The one-year licences are subject to “transitioning” to a new licence-release process next year.
Their price has not been revealed, but Mr Mulder said it would reflect the Wodonga zone and legislation passed this year which was based on the Taxi Industry Inquiry’s recommendations for annual licence fees.
“Non-metro licence offers are licence requests held over pending the outcome of the (inquiry),” Mr Mulder said.
“I have granted these licences based on an identified need.”
|Heather Griffin, Wodonga|
"It's a good idea, they're always pretty busy. I rely on them when my daughter's not able to drive around and they've always been good."
|Catherine Wohlhagen, Wodonga|
"It's very good, we are a growing city here aren't we? I can't complain about them though, they're quite good. I don't have any trouble getting one."
|Brodie Jones, Wodonga|
"You can never have too much, it won't hurt to have a few more. The longest I've had to wait for one was about 20 minutes."
Driver Charanjit Singh, who recently moved to Wodonga after working as a cabbie in Melbourne, thought it was “not a bad idea”.
“Maybe on the week nights it will affect us a bit but, on average, it won’t harm us,” he said.
“It’s good for the community.”
Mother-of-two Jessica Tippins, at the plaza taxi rank on Tuesday, said the extra cars would help, although she had never had too much difficulty getting a taxi.
“They always show up soon after I’ve called them,” she said.
“But it won’t hurt, especially with the summer, when you’ve got mums with young kids or the elderly out in the heat.”
Aidan Miller, 17, also thought the extra taxis would make a difference, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights.
Licence applicants have 90 days to accept the licence offers made by the Taxi Service Commission.