Apr 01, 2015

The last four weeks have proven to be as busy and difficult for many in the industry as the previous four. The issues concerning most still, understandably, relate to the lack of serious action being taken against those who operate commercial passenger services illegally and the Knowledge test(s).  In country and urban areas the 45/55 split is still causing heart ache amongst operators and appears to be the predominate issue. 

In relation to the Knowledge test some important amendments to the test and the processes have now been put in place. Drivers will be given 2 chances every 3 months rather than 2 every 12 months, a long overdue study/training manual has been produced and changes to the actual content have also now been made.  These are positive changes, but more needs to be done. The VTA continues to see no reason to limit the number of times a person can seek to become qualified - they either pass or they don't. This restriction seems draconian and unnecessary. The content also needs more work. According to drivers who have both failed and passed many questions are still tricky and confusing.

The VTA is also of the view that more needs to be done to account for the record of existing drivers. For example, if a driver has been accredited for 4 years, has no complaints on their record and scores 78% should they really have their accreditation cancelled and in many truly upsetting cases lose their ability to earn an income? We think not. We intend to develop a strong case for some sort of probationary system for existing drivers who score highly in the test(s) and have good taxi driving records. Surely it cannot be the aim of the process to knock good drivers out of the industry?

At the time of writing we are awaiting yet another court date to convene for the 11 prosecuted Uber X drivers. What a waste of taxpayers' money. Commonsense prevailing, these individuals should be prosecuted and then hopefully we will see decisive action from the TSC in regard to prosecuting people who so clearly think they are entitled to operate outside the law. In this regard VTA staff have also been spending time at Melbourne Airport talking to drivers about this issue and asking them to sign letters to their local MP's outlining their concerns with Uber X. We have had a great response but if you would like to know more or contribute please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

I have also just returned from a series of regional VTA meetings. All were well attended and as usual I found the meetings informative and enjoyed the robust discussion. I would like to thank my regional members for their attendance and also their patience. At the moment, with the Knowledge and Uber X, there is a lot of attention on metropolitan issues. The biggest concern in the regions is still the 45/55 split and the fact that it drives the price of the service up unnecessarily. The TSC are currently undertaking a broader review of the implied conditions, including the 45/55 split, to which we have contributed. We look forward to, and hope for, some sensible amendments.

In closing I would like to thank and acknowledge the work of outgoing TSC CEO Marnie Williams. Marnie has always been willing to discuss any issue and has been honest and upfront about what, in her view, was possible and what was not. I think most who have got to know Marnie would agree she was always willing to sit down with people and engage with them regardless of their concern. On that note I will sign off for another month, I know it's tough out there for many. If you need anything, please do not hesitate to contact us and see what we can do to assist.