BATHURST taxi driver Dean Shadbolt is calling on the community to show support for country taxi owners who face more uncertainty in the wake of a draft government report.
Mr Shadbolt said the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) wanted to release more taxi licences into country areas that will mark the death knell of country cabs.
He is asking people to support a petition, which will be handed to the Legislative Assembly, calling for the government to reject the recommendations.
“The market is already depleted in the country,” Mr Shadbolt said.
“I have been operating for years and I have never seen it like this. I can’t afford to buy more licences.”
Mr Shadbolt said there were currently 80 taxi licenses on hold in NSW, where the operators have either gone bust or simply left the industry because the business was not viable. Of those 80 plates, six belong to Bathurst.
“If the government accepts this report it will be the big corporations or foreign investors who will buy up these licences, pushing out the little guys and end locally-owned services,” Mr Shadbolt said.
“Those in the taxi industry around rural and regional NSW have seen a number of our friends’ businesses close down - we just can’t keep up with the inequities between us and our competition any more.
“It will have an impact on our community from local mechanics, pubs and health services who rely on our business to your nanna and pop, school children and people with disabilities.
“We don’t have many ride-sharing apps or providers out here and the ones that do operate do so at their own convenience, providing transport only on weekends or special events.
“This will leave the community high and dry during non-peak times and weeknights. We are the only transport service to operate and be on call on a 24/7 basis.
“From midnight to dawn emergencies arise such as picking up victims of domestic violence, car breakdowns and people needing emergency trips to the hospital, taxis are always there to provide a service.
“We also help keep drink drivers off the road and encourage patrons of licenced venues to get home safely.
“This keeps the emergency services available to help others in need rather than applying strain or pressure to these already limited services in country areas.
“We ask the government not adopt this report. We want to remain viable. We want to work with government to do this but we need them to listen.”
“We are asking passengers to sign this petition asking the government to not adopt these recommendations.”