$3.4m for regional taxi support

Toby Hussey and Saskia AdystiAlbany Advertiser
Transport Minister Rita Saffioti announced the $3.4 million Regional Taxi Transition Support Package under the budget today.
Camera IconTransport Minister Rita Saffioti announced the $3.4 million Regional Taxi Transition Support Package under the budget today. Credit: The West Australian

Country taxi drivers will be able to apply for a $10,000 lifeline from the State Government, after a series of closures and threats from from Great Southern Taxi service.

Under the new rules, announced today, existing regional taxi licence holders will be eligible for a $10,000 payment per licence to assist with changes under the State’s new ride-sharing laws.

The grants will be capped at $100,000.

The $3.4 million Regional Taxi Transition Support Package would also waive fees for taxi operators applying for a on-demand booking service authorisation, as well as the passenger transport vehicle authorisation fee for three years.

An existing offer of $500 to country taxi operators to pay for new mandatory in-car security cameras will remain.

The State will contact eligible country taxi plate licensees.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said concerns from taxi operators over how the change would impact their operations had led to the changes.

The new ride-sharing laws come into effect on July 1.

“We have made a decision to provide (operators) with further assistance which will result in monetary savings and reduce administration and reporting requirements,” she said.

“Country taxis play an important role in our regions and this package will assist the industry while it adjusts to a more open market, so it can continue to be a viable and competitive option for the people of WA.”

The announcement comes after a series of Great Southern taxi operator closures or threats to close over the State’s new laws, which it claimed would increase competition following the growth of ride-sharing companies like Uber.

The State said reducing the limitations currently imposed on regional taxi operators, such as area of operation and a requirement to have cars available all-hours, would benefit drivers.

However, in recent weeks services in Denmark and Katanning have closed and, in April, Albany City Cabs operator Tim O’Donnell warned taxis could virtually disappear during off-peak hours.

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