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.