The week of 12 April 2021 saw me travelling through western Victoria, and catching up with the taxi industry in several towns including Bendigo, Hamilton and Portland. Hearing about the taxi industry in regional Victoria is one thing, but seeing it in person is another – and the journey was emotional but enlightening and necessary.
In Bendigo, I visited Bendigo Taxis to witness its dispatch operations and meet the directors, and find out how the taxi industry was surviving in Bendigo.
The Victorian Government has identified commercial passenger vehicles as high-risk environments for the spread of COVID-19. The government's free QR Code service has a version specific for commercial passenger vehicles, and can be downloaded from – https://busreg.covid19.dhhs.vic. gov.au/vehicles/s/login/SelfRegister or scan the QR code shown to the left.
Owners of commercial passenger vehicles (CPVs) must now provide a digital record-keeping system, such as a QR code, which records: • passenger’s first name • phone number • date and time the passenger used the service • registration number of the vehicle. In addition, owners are required by Department of Health to keep records of payroll and trip data.
COVID-19 has impacted all spheres of society, severely affecting all industries globally and the transportation industry is no exception. Strict lockdowns, restricted travel has led the taxi, hire car and rideshare industry to suffer significant loss in business. With the increased concern around health and safety, drivers across the rideshare, healthcare and taxi industry were hesitant to drive patients and passengers, resulting in reduced capacity and impacting the services. Similarly, passengers also needed to feel safe while travelling in Uber, Ola or any other cab services.
I have been reporting on this industry for over 30 years and it never ceases to amaze me how every State (and Territory) in Australia does things slightly, and sometimes majorly, different from the others.
Just this year alone, the Victorian government has seen fit to grant Uber the right to transport our most vulnerable citizens – those who are MPTP (TSS) cardholders. Victoria is the only Australian State to do this. Moreover, it is the only place in the world where this has been done!
In New South Wales, the NSW Taxi Council has started up a Disability Reference Group where industry stakeholders will come together, discuss and network with the NSW taxi industry and disability sector. This will help foster a more collaborative and consultative relationship with all stakeholders.
The CPVV undertook a trial of the MPTP scheme with Uber in Geelong from 22 March to 31 May 2020 – at the start of Victoria's COVID-19 lockdown.
The subsequent results of the government orchestrated trial, where they judged Uber's services, are BASED ON 170 TRIPS conducted during this period.
This works out to be a sample size of LESS THAN 0.15% of the average MPTP trips during October and November 2020 - not 5%, not 10%, not 20%, but LESS THAN 0.15%. How is this data sufficient to make a judgement call?
And if you look at July 2019-June 2020 figures, the CPVV reports that 4.7 MILLION MPTP TRIPS were undertaken in that 12 month period.
Rod Barton MP condemns the Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria (CPVV) for partnering with Uber to deliver the Multi-Purpose Taxi Program (MPTP).
The MPTP assists with the travel needs of people with accessibility and mobility needs by offering subsidised taxi fares. This program is an essential service that exists to ensure that everyone can access safe and efficient transport, especially those most vulnerable.
For years, taxis have delivered the MPTP, undertaking training that allows drivers to transport vulnerable groups. This is a program that has long been built on trust, flexibility and safety.
The Victorian Regulator (CPVV) has announced that it has PARTNERED with Uber and is allowing Uber to participate in the MPTP system – the subsidy scheme that allows people with a severe or permanent disability to get a 50% subsidy when travelling in taxis.How ridiculous!!
There are so many things wrong with this.Minister for Public Transport, Ben Carroll, how can you condone this action? How can you allow the Regulator to decimate the taxi industry?
Wasn’t it bad enough that the Victorian government allowed Uber to operate illegally for 3 years and infiltrate the Victorian taxi and hire car industry? But now you have hit them in the guts again.
All Victorian CPVs (ie taxis, hire cars, limousines, special vehicles, ride share (including Uber, Didi, Shebah, GoCatch, Ola) must be cleaned after each trip (including after personal usage).
You must correctly clean high-touch services in a CPV at the right times. You must also keep a record of every time you clean. If you work with a booking service provider (BSP) or CPV owner, they must take reasonable steps to support you.
When to clean
You must clean all surfaces passengers are likely to touch before every trip.
Anyone driving or travelling in a Victorian commercial passenger vehicle must wear a fitted face mask. That's everyone, drivers and passengers, travelling in a taxi, hire car, limousine or ride share vehicle (including Uber, DiDi, Shebah, GoCatch, Ola).
Transport Alliance Australia (TAA)'s latest Operators' Forum held on Friday 4 December via Zoom was a great success.
Thank you to those who attended or expressed interest. TAA have been receiving excellent feedback from everyone who participated.
For those who missed it, TAA ran through a comparison of cleaning requirements for all the states/territories, cleaning etiquette, legal news, product presentations from guest speakers, and a few marketing tips, then ended with an open discussion.