NONE of the new taxi licences allocated last month under the state government’s restructure of the industry has been taken up in south-west Victoria.
So far the status quo remains under existing licences, many of which were bought for up to $300,000 and now worth only a fraction of the investment.
Under the new system which has divided Victoria into four categories, new licences are available for 12-month leases ranging from $22,494 in metropolitan and large regional centres to $11,247 for regional areas like Warrnambool and $3476 for smaller country districts.
“The resale value has plummeted because of this lease arrangement,” said Andrew Watson, a director of Warrnambool Radio Taxis, the city’s longest-running operator.
“But the bigger issue for us is the new split where drivers get 55 per cent of the fare and the cab licence owner gets 45 per cent.
“Previously it was a 50/50 split and now operators are carefully looking at their legal options.
“We don’t have an issue with drivers being paid more, but I question the effect on the viability of taxi operators. Everything is so regulated in pricing it’s hard to make adjustments.
“The new system has created uncertainty in the market.”
A tougher new driver knowledge test introduced in June which produced a 100 per cent failure rate in metropolitan areas does not apply to regional zones.