IPART meeting in Coffs Harbour fails to reach resolution after draft recommendation

AN Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) meeting was held in Coffs Harbour on Thursday, February 1 to seek feedback on its draft recommendations on fares and the number of new taxi licences to be issued.

There is still “a way to go” before an outcome is reached according to Brett Dawson, the general manager of Port Taxis.

IPART is conducting a review of fares and taxi licences in rural and regional NSW, and is proposing to freeze taxi fares and make it easier and cheaper for new taxis to enter the market so services are both more available and more affordable.

The public forum, held at Opal Cove Resort, enabled anyone with a vested interest to discuss the draft recommendations that were released for feedback in December. Five Port Macquarie representatives attended.

“In terms of outcomes there were none really. At this stage they have overlooked a number of issues,” Mr Dawson said.

“As far as their submission goes in the current state, I think it will be a while until it’s submitted to the government.”.

As far as their submission goes in the current state, I think it will be a while until it’s submitted to the government.

Brett Dawson

Mr Dawson said suspending any further release of players in metropolitan areas is not a solution.

“We find that releasing plates in non-metro areas won’t do anything to help with competition which is what they’re wanting to do,” he said.

“The immediate solution is not to release anymore plates, and the biggest thing for everyone is to be on a level playing field.

“The operating costs and insurance, for example, should be the same across all the markets whether that’s the taxi market or the ride share market.”

Mr Dawson also said the data used by IPART, and the data most of the operators support, are conflicting.

“Particularly with what’s happening in the taxi market as opposed to the ride share market,” he said.

“It’s quite skewed as they didn’t have a great deal of relevant data for taxis.

“There are still a number of issues, little items, which have been overlooked. There are a lot of things that they’re going to have to look at.”

IPART chairman Dr Peter Boxall said the recommended fare freeze would apply for rank and hail taxi services only, following the deregulation of fares for booked services from November 1, 2017.

"The draft recommendations have been put forward to ensure taxi services remain competitive in the face of emerging competition from other point-to-point transport providers, such as Uber and Gobuggy," he said.

"Our objective is to have more taxis available when and where people need them, and maintaining maximum fares at the current level, is the best way to deliver high quality services at the best price for passengers."