CABBIES claim they are at breaking point and at risk of losing their homes after the Victorian government made the decision to shake up the taxi industry.
Taxis caused traffic pain during peak hour this morning as a convoy drove slowly across Melbourne’s Bolte Bridge in protest of the Victorian government’s plan to buy back taxi licences and legalise ride sharing service Uber.
Taxi licences are being bought back by the government to deregulate the taxi industry and introduce a single registration for taxis, hire cars and ride-share services.
The government will pay taxi drivers $100,000 for their first licence and $50,000 for up to three others.
But licence holders say the compensation is unfair and will lead to financial ruin, with many cabbies paying up to $500,000 per licence.
In light of today’s taxi strike, The Bolte Bridge has been temporarily renamed The Crawle
The cabs were moving at a walking pace across the bridge this morning as the Victorian Taxi and Hire Car Families committee urged drivers to cause gridlock.
“Lets cause some disruption,” the group wrote on Facebook.
“The government can dismantle the industry if they choose, but we as licence holders should not have to pay the price for industry reform,” the group’s spokeswoman, Linda De Melis, told ABC 774.
“We are at breaking point, people are losing their homes, and it’s that level of desperation that has driven us to this point today.
“Currently the government is seizing our licences for zero in return.”
Traffic moving 5km/h over Bolte Bridge due to taxi protest. That’s 3km/h faster than normal for Monday peak! #victraffic #taxi #Melbourne
Social media commenters said the manner of the drivers’ protest would people off taxis because it disrupted their morning commute.
“Because this is the way to go about this. Piss off the public that use you. You had a chance to better your service and did nothing,” Brett Goatley posted, with a hint of sarcasm.
Others have complained the Melbourne taxis never show up on time and are too expensive, but some have supported the cabbies’ protest and said “good on them”.
“I’d like to see how you would act if you paid $300,000 to own a taxi licence then someone else comes in and takes your customers without any licence,” Denis Loutas wrote on Facebook.