The Victorian Taxi Association plan was explained as passengers being compensated with lower per kilometre charges, and cheaper flag-falls for lower demand suburbs, calculated using GPS technology. (www.heraldsun.com.au)
Well-Being Australia chairman Mark Tronson says that something along these lines has been long overdue. He's been a regular taxi user in over 30 years of travelling in Christian ministry, especially the 17 years when the Australian cricket team chaplain.
He noted that when flying into Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Hobart this is not much of an issue, as there are very few short distance fares as those city airports are a long distance from anywhere. That is apart from Airport Hotel drops.
Tullarmine airport is on the outskirts of Melbourne, linked by a freeway to the city. Every time one gets into a taxi from the airport, there is no point in checking the "dollar metre" as it will be a big fare regardless of whether the traffic lights are green.
Brisbane is not as bad as that city is a little closer as is Adelaide and Perth, but Hobart airport is a good distance out as well.
Airports close to suburban sprawl
Mark Tronson says the same cannot be said for Sydney or Canberra as their airports are within the suburban sprawl.
Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport (International and Domestic) is caught between large suburban shires. To the south is Cronulla, to the east are the southern Eastern Suburbs to the Pacific Ocean, to the west is a huge arc running from Hurstville to Strathfied to Five Dock. To the north is the CBD environs.
In one sense, almost every trip is a relatively small fee. But there are many closer encounters for the taxi industry.
Mark Tronson recalls numerous taxi trips to Sydney Airport Mercure international hotel where has a 30 year long standing arrangement for his ministry. These fares are less than $20. The taxi drive inevitably lets the airport taxi-rank supervisor know that it is a short distance trip, and on their way back-round to the airport, they get preferential "lining-up" positions for their next fare.
Canberra too is like this. The Canberra airport is one small hill's distance from Parliament House and Government buildings. There are innumerable such short taxi fare trips and the ACT taxi industry is similarly disposed to finding some way to minimise the costs to the industry of such short fares.
Cross border issues at Gold Coast Airport
The Gold Coast and Tweed Heads taxi industry's are full of loop holes and conflagrations. The Gold Coast airport is situated in Tugun, a suburb of the wider Coolangatta district.
Here the cross-border issues are in constant tension. A Queensland taxi is able by law to collect a fare from within Queensland, and take that passenger to a New South Wales destination such as Tweed Heads, Terranora, Kingscliff, Bryon Bay and the like.
As the law stands, a New South Wales licensed taxi is unable to collect a fare from any motel along the Queensland – New South Wales border in the Tweed Heads – Coolangatta tourist strip from a Queensland location to a New South Wales location.
The only exception is the Gold Coast airport where New South Wales licensed taxis' are line up on the far side of the designated taxi road. Queensland taxis are on the curb side to the airport exit.
Moreover, a Gold Coast arriving passenger wanting to travel into New South Wales does not need to wait for a New South Wales licensed taxi, that passenger is entitled to catch the first Queensland licensed cab in line.
At a cross-border business community meeting recently in which Mark Tronson attended and NSW deputy premier Andrew Stoner attended, this issue was raised with much consideration and financial dictum.
Mark Tronson says that in his many ministry travels, he has caught many taxi's from the Gold Coast airport to his home in Tweed Heads which is no more than five minutes (200 metres from Coolangatta on the Pacific Ocean). When there is no New South Wales licensed taxi, he catches a Queensland taxi and those drivers are singularly unimpressed with such short fares "just across the border."
These are real issues and require real solutions for equity and a sense of fair play.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html