A coalition of community organisations called on the Victorian government to consider the needs of taxi passengers – particularly those who are aged, after a report found they were among a vulnerable group being mistreated by taxi drivers.
In reference to the Taxi Industry Inquiry Report, tabled in parliament last week, community organisations urged the state government to implement all of the recommendations made by Professor Allan Fels AO, who mapped out a comprehensive plan to reform the taxi industry to make it safer and more accessible for all users.
Penny Wilson, Victorian Council of Social Service chief executive, stated the service taxis provide was “too important to get reforms wrong”.
“Taxis are a vital form of transport for many Victorians, including people experiencing disadvantage, and older Victorians and people with disabilities,” Ms Wilson said.
“The stories we hear from vulnerable taxi users make a strong case for reform of the industry. We’ve heard about a host of serious problems, with vulnerable people left for hours in the dark or rain waiting for taxis, people with disabilities being refused carriage, or people being treated with disrespect or put in danger.”
According to Ms Wilson, the state government previously expressed its strong support to reforming the taxi industry in order to deliver a “better service for all Victorians”.
“Only by maintaining such a strong commitment will our taxi industry become world class and benefit both consumers and drivers alike,” she added.
COTA Victoria also urged the state government to respond to the Taxi Inquiry report to ensure necessary reforms to the system could improve services and particularly respond to the needs of older Victorians.
“Older people without cars and lacking adequate public transport services are extremely disadvantaged,” COTA Victoria acting chief executive, David Craig, said.
“The current taxi system fails to deliver a flexible and cost effective service for older people especially those who live in regional Victoria and in outer metropolitan areas where public transport is non existent. Without change, older Victorians will continue to suffer.”