Taxi companies are angry they have lost funding for a concierge service at city ranks
Miles Kemp, The Advertiser
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REVELLERS in the city and Glenelg will be less safe if concierges and security guards are removed from taxi ranks because of funding cuts, the taxi industry warns.
Taxi Council SA has no ongoing funding for managed ranks after Adelaide Airport, the major backer of the program, said it would restrict its funding to airport ranks.
The cut comes as industry insiders argue the potential for violence between their drivers and Uber operators has become a weekly threat, especially at the Hindley St rank where Uber drivers have been accused of trying to poach fares illegally.
“There is real trouble brewing down here, especially on the busy nights, and we need more people to keep the peace, not less,’’ one taxi driver told The Advertiser.
The service has been provided since 2002, but beginning this week, airport funding is being phased out over six months. The service needs $300,000 a year to operate but the only other funding is $81,000 from the State Government to the end of this year.
“The industry doesn’t have any funds to make up the shortfall,’’ Taxi Council SA president Steve Savas said.
“It is currently assessing what this will mean, with a likely reduction in ranks and the possible removal of the concierges.
“Beyond the end of the year, they have no funding guaranteed and may have to shut the program altogether.”
Mr Savas said the council had requested an urgent meeting with Transport Minister Stephan Knoll to find options for keeping the service.
Mr Knoll said: “I’m happy to sit down with the Taxi Council and discuss the situation.”
Mr Savas said one of the purposes of the scheme was to provide a “safe and secure” service during peak times.
“It’s just another blow for our industry which has had an incredibly tough run since the introduction of (Uber) ride-share,” he said.
A spokesman for Adelaide Airport said it would continue to provide funding for the service and other taxi facilities at the airport, but not elsewhere.
“In addition, we’re constructing a new taxi drop-off zone closer to the main terminal,” the spokesman said.
The driver who spoke to The Advertiser said the service had a strong focus on security for young revellers at ranks in Hindley St, Morphett St, North Tce, Pulteney St and King William St in the Adelaide CBD, and at Glenelg.
The program also helps to keeps the peace at Adelaide Oval events, the Adelaide Fringe, WOMADelaide, and the Adelaide 500.
Mr Savas said the funding cut by Adelaide Airport came at a time when other authorities were increasing safety measures after dark in the CBD.
STS, (Suburban Taxi Services) have acquired the Upton/Jet Industries taxi fleet which will be operated under their Fleet Management Services division. Additionally, we have been advised that the lease management fee of $3 + GST has been removed from STS’s lease agreements.
1) Unfortunately, we can confirm that in the majority of cases the Taxi Assistance payments to license holders will be declared as Income and therefore taxable. This is a major blow for many within the industry. Lobbying is still continuing.
2) Richard Watts has shown considerable initiative in contacting the ATO again to obtain the current cents per kilometre rate which the ATO uses as a benchmark in calculating your taxi income. Presently it is set at $1.30 per kilometre and for ride share it is set at $0.68 per kilometre. Both are to be reviewed for the 2018-19 Financial year. These figures are important when evaluating your business. They become even more important to existing and potential ride share operators when the current operating costs of either a petrol or hybrid Toyota Camry is $0.68 per kilometre according to the RACV. It raises more questions than answers but definitely confirms what we all have been saying within the industry.