Welcome to the first edition of the CommissionQuarterly. Victoria’s taxi and hire vehicle industryis changing and the newly formed Taxi ServicesCommission (TSC) is well underway in implementingthe government endorsed reforms. A key personinstrumental in working with our stakeholders toimplement the reforms is the TSC’s newlyappointed CEO, Marnie Williams.
Change can be challenging, and it’s important thatwe communicate with everyone and hear the issuesbeing faced. Every quarter we’ll present an update onthe reforms through this publication, the CommissionQuarterly, and our Consultative Committee.
Since our inception on 1 July 2013, we have alreadyseen some change throughout the industry, andthere is more to come. Even at this early stage,these changes are allowing the industry to developand grow – standards are lifting and we areseeing more choices for the community.
Our vision is of an industry free to innovate andcompete. In the future we may see new taxi brands– with their own smartphone booking and paymentsystems – offering unique services for passengers.
We look forward to working with you nowand into the future.
The taxi and hire car reform is complex and constantly evolving.While every effort has been made to ensure the information in theCommission Quarterly is as up to date and as accurate as possible atthe time of publication, the currency and accuracy of the informationprovided cannot be guaranteed. The information contained in theCommission Quarterly is a summary only and should not be reliedon as a substitute for legal or other professional advice. Readersare advised to obtain independent legal or other professional advicerelevant to their particular circumstances.
The Commission continues to work ona range of reforms, which are due to rollout throughout next year.
The new Knowledge assessment is beingdeveloped as part of the accreditationprocess for new drivers and will be runindependent of the industry. Existingdrivers that have been accreditedfor less than 5 years will also needto sit the Knowledge. Passengerswill benefit from the Knowledge asstandards of drivers will increase.
In September 2013, the EssentialServices Commission (ESC) calledfor submissions from the communityand industry into a review of Victoria’staxi fare structure. It’s expected thenew fare structure will help addressissues such as short fare refusal andprovide a fairer system for passengersand drivers. The ESC’s determinationwill be made in the first half of 2014.
New zones will allow taxi operators,outside of Melbourne, to work acrossa broader geographical area, andreact to public demand. The new zonesystem will also determine the annualfee for new taxi and hire car licences.
REVIEWING THECURRENTSERVICES FORTHE DISABILITYSECTOR
We have formed an advisory groupwho are reviewing the centralized booking service. An independentreview on the Multi-PurposeTaxi Program is also beingconducted. Passengers witha disability will benefit fromthese reform improvements.
A new fairer driver agreement will beintroduced in 2014. It will include aminimum driver payment of 55% ofthe fare box. Better paid drivers andworking conditions should increasedriver professionalism and improvecustomer service for passengers.
Hire car reforms means morepre-booked services will be availableto the public, ranging from a luxury“high end” market to more affordableand specialised services. Thesedevelopments will give the public morechoice in point-to-point travel options.
A key part of the reforms is a strategicand careful restructure of the priceand issuing of new taxi licences.The intent behind this reform is toencourage competition and providemore choice for passengers.
Taxis won’t have to affiliate withbooking companies (Network ServiceProviders). Every taxi will be requiredto meet strict safety standards like GPStracking and emergency alert systems.Removing affiliation will create morebooking companies, more specialized services and more competition.
As part of our commitment to providingpassengers with better access to clearinformation in taxis we’ve providednew labels. These labels – in thefront and rear of the taxi – displaytaxi fares, where and how to providefeedback and alert passengers tothe presence of security cameras.
People in regional areas will start tonotice non-yellow taxis on the roads.Country operators now have the optionto choose the colour of their taxis anddifferentiate themselves from theircompetitors. Passengers can simplyidentify the company they prefer andkeep using them. Melbourne taxisoperators will soon be able to moveaway from the yellow livery as well.
As a part of creating more customerfocused technology, the first phaseof our new online Public Register islive. Passengers simply type theirdriver’s identification number (locatedon the driver’s identification card inthe front of the taxi) into our websiteto check if the driver is accredited.In 2014, passengers will also be ableto view operator’s details to assistwith feedback and lost property.
NEW TAXIADS A SIGNOF THE TIMES
On 9 September 2013, the restrictionof advertising on taxis and hire carswas lifted. Taxi Services CommissionChair Graeme Samuel said allowingadvertising was “part of trying tounfreeze the industry and give ownersand operators more business options.Advertising is not mandatory –operators can choose to have it or not.”
On the outside, taxi operators canchoose to place advertising material onthree areas; the boot, the roof, and onthe rear window using laminated mesh-screeningsimilar to that used on trams.
Operators can also apply to fit interiorVisual Display Units (VDUs) viewable bypassengers in the back seat – thesemust be equipped with on/off switches.
Chris Sikavitsas runs Taxi Staffing,operating around 120 taxis fromits Richmond depot.
“Advertising is a great way to increaserevenue, but our cars have to lookright, so we’ll be mindful of thatas well,” Mr Sikavitsas said.
“The ability to advertise, particularlywith the interior VDUs, opensup a whole host of opportunitiesas technology evolves.
“It isn’t just what our vehicles canoffer to an advertiser that we needto consider. It’s also about what sortof information we can be providingto our passengers,” he said.
Advertising units must be designedand fitted so they don’t compromisepassenger or public safety, andmust be certified by an appropriatelylicensed engineer and compliant withrelevant advertising standards.
WHAT OURCUSTOMERSARE TELLING US
Our customer satisfaction monitormeasures overall satisfaction ofpassengers with the taxi industry.
- Overall satisfaction has improved each quarter this year and we are in a better position than the same time last year.
- In the July-September quarter there were two major areas of decreased satisfaction: value for money and overall personal security.
- Compared to the same time last year, we have seen an increase in satisfaction with finding a taxi on the street, with taxi ranks and the overall fares and payment system.
NEED MORE INFORMATION?
Telephone: 1800 638 802 (toll free)
TTY/Voice users: 1800 555 677
Speak and listen users: 1800 555 727
Taxi Services Commission
Level 23, 80 Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
GPO Box 1716, Melbourne VIC 3001 Phone: 1800 638 802 (toll-free)