Latrobe Valley taxi drivers on the ball

REGIONAL taxi drivers are more than familiar with their local areas and do not need a geographical test, which their city counterparts will have to undertake, a Morwell taxi service operator claims.

“Our drivers are born and bred here and know their areas,” Morwell Taxis owner Carmen Giddens said.

“It’s not like the metropolitan areas, the city is totally different to country taxis.”

Beginning this week, new metropolitan cabbies and hire car drivers are now required to sit the Knowledge Test, which includes driver behaviour and geographical assessments prior to applying for accreditation.

The measure forms part of a string of transportation reforms by the State Government, implemented over the past few months.

Aside from the Knowledge Test, cab drivers will now have a 55 per cent share of the fare, up from the 50-50 split with operators in the past.

Ms Giddens said increasing the share of drivers in the fare may adversely affect taxi operators.

“That’s well and good but the owners still have to pay all the expenses so at the end of the day it’s just a matter of whether the owner can stay viable,” she said.

“Terry Mulder, the minister for transport, didn’t put enough consultation into it.

“We have people who’ve made big decisions with very little information.”

Ms Giddens also took a swipe at the recent 12.5 per cent increase in taxi fares, and said this was not enough considering the last increase was six years ago.

“It should have been 30 per cent to bring us up to square with the rest of the state,” she said.

Ms Gibbens also challenged the government to look at petrol prices in Morwell, which she said were between eight to 10 cents higher, compared to service stations in Traralgon and Moe.