Paul Weston, Gold Coast Bulletin
December 10, 2016 12:30am
AT least 600 people have signed up as Uber drivers in Southport alone as the Gold Coast taxi drivers hit a financial wall with their licences halving in value.
Southport MP Rob Molhoek, who has been approached by concerned taxi operators, was told the Uber drivers in his electorate were averaging about 11,400 pick-ups in a month.
“It does suggest to me that it would be a higher than the normal rate (of drivers),” Mr Molhoek said. “Southport is easy pickings in terms of renumeration. There’s probably 10,000 students living in the area.”
Southport Rob Molhoek has had visits at his electorate office from taxi owners concerned about their financial future.
Uber estimates it has about 2000 drivers on the Coast but for commercial reasons does not release ride share numbers.
“We know that more than 140,000 Gold Coast residents have embraced ridesharing as a safe, reliable and affordable way to get from A to B,” Uber Queensland general manager Sam Bool said.
“Additionally, there are around 9000 Queenslanders accessing flexible income opportunities driving on the Uber platform, including 2000 who are based on the Gold Coast.”
Experienced Coast taxi operators said they were concerned about the value of their licences.
“If those figures are correct I feel there are some Uber drivers who are starving,” a senior Coast taxi source said. “We do a million trips a week.
“The financial stress is certainly huge but it’s the emotional stress, the instability that hurts us all. The banks are no longer lending.”
Data provided by the Taxi Council of Queensland to a hearing in State Parliament shows the value of Gold Coast taxi licences has decreased from $580,000 to $230,000 since the introduction of ride sharing.
A submission by First Class Taxis at Burleigh Heads said Coast taxi drivers had experienced a dramatic drop in income due to ride source platforms.
“Taxi drivers have seen income decrease by up to 30 per cent on selected shifts,” the company said.
Gold Coast Airport has designated rideshare waiting bays for Uber drivers and their passengers. Frequent Uber user Nikita Johnston gets dropped off by Uber driver Dennis Tampemawa.
Mr Molhoek said the Government was “back to front” on its relief package after giving the green light to ride sharing in September.
“We basically took the shackles off and said to Uber “go your hardest”. Then we said “now we are going to look at what we can do to compensate the taxi industry and help them deal with the some of the hardship issues that have come out of that on-the-run decision,” he said.
The Government had “destroyed the balance sheet” for the $500 million industry which included 3286 taxi licences in Queensland, he said.
Drivers who were earning $4056 for nine shifts in 2013 were now receiving as little as $750 a week for the same of number of hours, Mr Molhoek said.
Burleigh MP Michael Hart supported amendments for the recent Heavy Vehicle National Law bill but also believed the compensation of two lots of $20,000 was not enough.
He said an elderly Coast woman who with her late husband had invested $1 million of their superannuation saving into two taxis could not sell the vehicles.