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A FORMER peninsula cab driver and the Victorian Taxi Association have hit back at the draft of the state government's taxi industry inquiry.
The driver, who quit the industry two weeks ago after 23 years in the business and did not wish to be named, said the report was a waste of taxpayers' money - "it won't change the standard the industry at all".
He said the draft report of the inquiry, titled Customers First: Service, Safety, Choice, which focused on the London model of the taxi industry, would lead to more foreign drivers in Australia and would result in losses for taxi operators.
The former driver said there needed to be an independent body to hold taxi drivers accountable.
"A lot of the drivers refuse jobs to outlying locations and only operate at peak times. This means there won't be cabs available the rest of the time.
"Lots of drivers refuse jobs to Hastings, Flinders, Rosebud or Portsea because they are too far out.
"This report is punishing the wrong people, it is punishing the operators. There should be fines for drivers not abiding by the regulations. If you receive a job you are expected to collect that passenger."
He said if the draft was adopted it would result in less operators taking on wheelchair cab licences.
Victorian Taxi Association spokesman David Samuel said he was also concerned with some of the recommendations outlined in the draft report.
"There are some commonsense initiatives there but other points, such as the number of licences we do not agree with," he said.
"We don't think wholesale deregulation is a way to overcome the problems faced by some passengers on the peninsula. We think greater availability of cabs can be achieved while licence supply is still regulated."
Mr Samuel said the issue of a fare rise for passengers had not been addressed - "a fare increase is crucial to the future of the industry".
If some of the recommendations were adopted, taxi drivers and operators could end up worse off. "Ultimately, what we want to see is better outcomes for taxi passengers are we just aren't sure of this report will achieve that."
Mr Samuel said that on the whole, drivers did a good job. "It is not so much the knowledge stuff that is a problem, customers don't care so much if cab drivers don't know where certain landmarks are as long as they have a grasp of the geography of greater Melbourne," he said.
"We also need a fare-setting structure that sets the right incentives for drivers, in terms of pay and remuneration, to ensure every patron is picked up and delivered safely to their destination. It is fundamental that passengers don't have problems getting a taxi when they need it."
Peninsula Taxis, the only taxi operator on the Mornington Peninsula, did not wish to comment on the draft report.