Greek community continues to speak out against proposed Taxi licence reforms in NSW

Source - The Greek Herald

In the days that followed The Greek Herald’s article on the new Taxi licence plate reforms announced by the NSW Government recently, The Greek Herald was contacted by many other members of Sydney’s Greek community who wanted to express their anger and disappointment.

As reported, Transport for NSW held a number of webinars with Taxi licence owners in September this year where they announced the new reforms. These included, but were not limited to, removing the limit on the number of Taxi licences and removing restrictions on areas where Taxis can operate.

According to the CEO of the NSW Taxi Council, Martin Rogers, this means that “if you own a Taxi licence, once the reforms come through, they’ll be gone. What you would then need to do to even operate a Taxi is apply for an annual licence for one year through the Point to Point Transport Commission for about $200 a year.”

Mr Rogers then explained how during the webinar, Transport for NSW gave an “inappropriate example” of how Taxi licence owners could potentially be compensated for this cancellation. They said owners could be given $50,000 for each licence, but it will be capped at two licences. Anything over that will not be compensated, amounting in huge losses for many Greeks who initially paid around $400,000 for a licence.

Martin Rogers, CEO, NSW Taxi Council.

‘It’s ruined us’

One person who heard all about this proposal through our article was 64-year-old Maria Athanasakos.

Back in 2003, Ms Athanasakos and her husband decided to sell a house they owned and invested in two Taxi licences “because they were supposed to be government-run and secure for our future.” They paid $294,000 for one licence and $295,000 for the second.

Ms Athanasakos was happy with the investment until 2015 when rideshare services such as Uber came onto the scene and the NSW Government de-regulated the booked market.

“It’s ruined us financially and mentally. It’s not fair,” she tells The Greek Herald.

“There’s no more income from the Taxi. We get $60 a month. That’s ridiculous and now they want us to hand the plates back for $50,000 and then if we want to continue, we have to pay them. That’s not fair, that’s criminal.”

Ms Athanasakos says the situation needs to be rectified with appropriate compensation.