Australia’s Taxi Industry is urging state and federal governments to ease pressure on cab drivers paying for soaring petrol prices out of their own pockets by allowing for an increase in regulated cab fares and slashing the fuel excise.
While ridehailing services such as Uber and Didi have implemented new surcharges to pass on higher fuel costs onto passengers, drivers in the traditional Taxi Industry have been forced to absorb them because cab fares are based on rates regulated by government agencies that differ in every state.
The NSW Taxi Council and 13cabs owner A2B Australia have told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age they are both lobbying NSW and Victorian governments to increase Taxi rates, slash the fuel excise, or provide some alternate form of relief for drivers.
“It is our hardworking cabbies that bear the brunt,” said A2B Australia head of public affairs David Samuel. “13cabs is asking state governments across the country to adjust regulated Taxi fares to account [for] the sharp increase in fuel prices.
“We can’t pass it onto the consumer like [Uber, DiDi] do.” Unlike ridehailing, Taxi services are unable to impose ‘levies’ because it would raise the price of the service beyond the regulated maximum, he added.
“It’s tough on [the drivers]. They’re already underpaid in our view. That’s just another additional hit they’ve got to cop off the back of COVID.”
13cabs has filed a submission into a review of Victorian taxi fares undertaken by the Essential Services Commission calling for the higher petrol costs to be addressed. The review will be completed in September 2022.
NSW Taxi Council deputy CEO Nick Abrahim echoed Mr Samuel’s sentiments, urging governments to provide some form of relief. “The NSW Taxi industry has not had any fare increase since 2014,” Mr Abrahim said. “It’s overdue. We have not had any review done for a couple of years now.”
But governments should not wait for reviews to be completed before acting, he said. “This is something that needs to happen fairly quickly … we need to give that support and relief quite urgently.”
NSW’s transport and roads agency said it acknowledged the industry’s concerns. “Transport for NSW will consider the request from the NSW Taxi Council, including the impact on customers and industry,” a spokesperson said.
Its Victorian counterpart said it was also exploring ways to support the industry.
“We will continue to look at ways to support industry to ensure we continue delivering a world-class transport network,” said a spokesperson for Victoria’s Department of Transport.
Ross Raslan, a 58-year-old Taxi driver for RSL Cabs based in Sydney, is behind the wheel for about 10 hours a week. But since petrol prices started their upward ascent a few weeks ago, he said he has put in an extra 2-4 hours just to make up the difference.
“It’s hard enough as it is,” Mr Raslan said, referring to competition from services such as Uber.
Mr Raslan owns and drives a hybrid that gets filled up at least three times a week. “Me personally, I’m paying an extra $30 a tank. That’s costing me $90 extra a week. The money is just hard to get.”
Mr Raslan said most Taxi drivers typically make around $200 to $350 a day. But many don’t own their vehicles and pay rental fees of up to $130 a day. “So the driver has to make $130, then another $40-$50 for the petrol before they even start making their own money,” he said.
Both Mr Samuel and Mr Abrahim were supportive of a cut in the fuel excise as one measure that could reduce operating costs for Taxi drivers. Mr Abrahim said a reduction would “most definitely” help drivers as the excise was a “major cost” of running a Taxi.
This article was written by Jessica Yun - Sydney Morning Herald and was published by Sydney Morning Herald on 17 March 2022. Click here to view the news story on Sydney Morning Herald's website