Late-night revellers abandon Melbourne’s taxi cab ranks

ALEKS DEVIC, Herald Sun

March 18, 2017 7:30pm

LATE-night revellers are abandoning the city’s cab ranks in their hundreds, sparking a review of their locations.

This summer, passenger numbers dipped to 908 — the lowest figure since the corresponding period over 2012 and 2013.

The number of people using taxi ranks outside Flinders St station, the Queen St mega rank and on Bourke St has been in a steady decline since 2014.

The rise of Uber has been blamed, along with phone apps used by cab companies that have made pick-ups easier.

City of Melbourne spends about $581,000 a year to operate the three cab ranks.

They are staffed by security guards, have security cameras, additional lighting and operate Friday and Saturday nights and early Sunday mornings.

 

Data shows the Queen St rank, between Little Collins St and Bourke St, is most popular, while the one at Bourke St, near Russell St, attracts the fewest passengers.

Despite the decline, City of Melbourne spokeswoman Kate Loughnan said there was no proposal to reduce the number of taxi zones. “We constantly review the placement of all taxi zones to ensure their location is relevant to the needs of the public,” Ms Loughnan said.

She said the council was “supportive of the taxi industry” and recognised its importance as a 24-hour service.

Uber has said it would not intrude on existing taxi ranks, but has sought zones at special events such as music festivals, the Spring Racing Carnival and sporting fixtures.

Under its proposal passengers would wait for their ride in a lounge-type area.

However, the City of Melbourne has no plans to establish dedicated zones for Uber drivers.

Victorian Taxi Association chief executive officer Georgia Nicholls said drivers preferred app-based bookings because they offered security as they knew who the rider was, and passengers were able to select a pick-up location and track their car.

“I think it’s a reflection that we are heading in the right direction,” he said.