Transport Matters Party leader Rod Barton is encouraging members of the taxi industry and the public to urge Labor Government Ministers and legislative council members to vote in favour of his private members bill to put a stop to the dangerous practice of touting in Victoria.
Members of Victoria’s legislative council will vote on the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Industry Amendment Bill to end touting on November 13.
“This aggressive and predatory behaviour is not how we should be greeting people arriving in our city,” says Mr Barton.
“The number of touts at Melbourne Airport is increasing daily with as many as 50 men approaching passengers as they leave the airport, and it’s spreading into inner city streets and at all our major events.”
Mr Barton says his advice to anyone approached by a tout was to walk away.
“You’re not getting a cheaper deal. You’re not getting any deal. You don’t know who this person is, if they’re an accredited driver or just a person off the street out to make a buck. You don’t know if their vehicle is safe, if they have the appropriate insurance or really where they might take you.
“Don’t get into a car with a tout.”
Imagine getting off a plane and being harassed by a group of men, before you even leave the arrivals hall.
Commercial Passenger Vehicles doing rank and hail work are required under the regulations to have security cameras and GPS tracking on their vehicles.
Mr Barton says touting is a form of rank and hail, yet very few of the drivers touting at the airport or major events were operating taxis.
“These are cash in hand jobs, with no record of the trip on a meter or in any of the apps. Spotters are bringing people out from the airport to waiting cars, taking their “cut” of the cash on the way.
“It looks dodgy, and it is dodgy. Don’t risk your safety.”
Mr Barton says many of the touts felt justified in resorting to these desperate measures to win work because reforms to the commercial passenger vehicle industry had allowed rideshare operators unfettered entry to the Victorian market, creating unsustainable numbers of vehicles and drivers and making it almost impossible to earn a living wage.
“But the situation out there has become dangerous and we hear more and more of women in particular having bad experiences in cars. This culture of cheap is creating opportunities for predators to approach women on the streets and offer them rides, masquerading as accredited drivers, and people are getting into these cars because they want a cheap ride home,” says Mr Barton.
Mr Barton says many rideshare operators used predatory pricing to gain market share when they arrived into the market but prices had risen substantially from those early day and are often the same, or more, than existing taxi pricing.
“At peak times you’re often paying more in a rideshare than you would in a taxi, but the perception of a cheap ride prevails. And even with the increase in drivers and cars on the road we only see a 1 minute improvement in wait times for cars,” he says.
“And if it’s a cash job the public has no way to know if you’re getting ripped off.”
Mr Barton says stopping touting is a first step in fixing safety and fairness problems in the commercial passenger vehicle industry and he urges members of the public to contact their local MP and ask them to support his bill.
Contact details for Victorian legislative council representatives can be found here.
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