Regional taxis hail levy lift

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Geoff VivianMidwest Times
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Taxi passengers outside Perth will not have to shoulder the cost of a temporary WA Government levy on metropolitan and Mandurah taxi fares, after lobbying from Nationals MPs.

A spokesman for Nationals small business and transport representative Vince Catania said the levy was designed to fund the metropolitan taxi plate compensation scheme for licensed taxi owners.

These drivers have seen a substantial reduction in the value of their plates after the WA Government allowed Uber and other ride-sharing companies to operate.

Mr Catania said regional taxis often operated on slim margins and slapping a 10 per cent levy on fares would have destroyed many businesses.

“Feedback received by regional drivers, operators and businesses is that many will become unviable if hit with the new tax,” he said.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the maximum levy on metropolitan taxi or charter fares would be $10.

Geraldton Greenough Taxis proprietor Phil May runs six taxis, including two 2012 Toyota Camrys he bought second-hand and four wheelchair-compatible vehicles that are “a bit older”.

Mr May said it would be unfair to impose a levy on regional customers to support metropolitan taxis.

“Unlike the city where they have hardship money and an offer of a buy-back, we’ve got none of that,” he said. “Why should we or our customers have to support it?”

Mr May said unregulated taxi activity already had an impact on his business.

“We mightn’t have Uber here but ride sharing is rampant on Friday and Saturday nights where they put a little message on Facebook,” he said.

“X amount of dollars for a ride into town, but they are not there at the end of the night when taxis have to clean up the worst of it.

“The department don’t want to put in the resources to police it.”

Mr May said the regulatory body was “over-stretched” and standards had dropped when it came to such matters as the appearance of vehicles.

“I think WA had the highest standards in Australia,” he said.

“Safety standards are still there but the other little things have slipped.”

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