Taxis in drive to take over Melbourne bus routes

Representatives of the taxi industry have urged the Victorian Taxi Industry Inquiry to adopt its proposal for centrally booked door-to-door share ride minibuses as an alternative to many regular bus routes.

Peter Erwin and Douglas Clark, who describe themselves as having extensive experience in the taxi industry, made a joint submission to the inquiry on August 13.

Erwin and Clark have approached community groups and local media in the Yarra Ranges, Whittlesea and East Gippsland seeking support for a trial of share ride minibuses.

In an email Erwin sent to the Whittlesea-based Bring Back the Buses Action Group on August 23 he said: “It is our clear understanding that government wishes to provide such innovative services where no service(s) currently exist and that these new offerings will replace large scheduled route bus services as a logical budgetary move and to provide more flexible and appropriate services into the future.

“We think that more routes serviced by very large, costly and inappropriate buses may be replaced with the smaller, demand responsive and very manoeuvrable door-to-door services which will be recommended by the Victorian Taxi Industry Inquiry and will be included in the Final Report to the Victorian government.”

Clark’s proposal for passengers of the City of Whittlesea, where the Baillieu state coalition government cut several bus services in April, is to “conduct trials in the Shire of Whittlesea for what we call ‘sweeping services’ which are door-to-door pre-paid minibus services under the new Taxi Services Commission) that take people from home to the nearest railway station, tram line or scheduled route-service bus point(s).”

An issue is whether under this pre-paid “sweeping service” passengers would be required to pre-pay for their share of the ride — an additional charge over and above what they would otherwise have paid for their day’s travel on public transport.

Being forced to rely on a door-to-door taxi would also deprive many people with disabilities of the opportunity to gain independent travelling skills through using mainstream services.


Sounds to me like vested interest of big business wants to steam roll the buses out of existence and put taxis in their place. This is similar to what the truck industry did to train freight services.

From the report it also looks like the speakers are pre-empting the decision of the committee and presenting their service as a fait acompli which can be a rather risky manoeuvre.

We must ask ourselves what is the price of these services. Not just monetary but community prices. I picture people sitting on a bus actually getting to know their neighbours if not talking to them then atleast by sight. People with disabilities improving their skills in moving around town, poorer people being able to go places because they can afford a bus and train fair.

All of that would not be happening with this so called point to point sweeping service and once the buses are gone we would be at the mercy of the taxi prices.

We need more public transport not more gas guzzling cars choking our roads.

Peter Erwin and Douglas Clark have no more experience in the taxi industry than I have as a neurosurgeon!!

Helen, please check your facts - you are misled and misleading readers.

They certainly DO NOT represent the taxi industry. Just ask anyone in the industry no one has heard of them (well not for the right reasons)

Dont be conned, all they are trying to do is sell software that will make shared rides possible - all to make money for them!!

In the process, ripping apart existing industries - they are no friends of the Taxi industry either, the are trying to get the rules changed so their software will be used in the taxi industry - causing genuine losses to hard working families by supporting the Fels inquiry recommendations.

They are also putting forward the idea that taxis want to compete with bus routes -to cause friction between two industries - just so that rules can be changed to implement their software.

From the taxi industries point of view - they can freely set up this shared ride service, if they wish to do so at their expense - NOT by forcing it on the Taxi industry - but why do they pretend they speak for the taxi industry??

Draft recommendation 12 of the Fels Taxi inquiry clearly spells out the intention of the state government to replace many buses with taxis: to allow taxis to compete for bus routes, to encourage taxis to take over routes where the government thinks it is more profitable than running a bus, to have taxis using bus lanes, to allow taxis to run fixed routes, as if they are buses

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