We've been short of drivers for months.- Andrew Watson
The past two years have proved extremely challenging for the owner of Warrnambool Radio Taxis.
Owner Andrew Watson said the company did all it could to support its staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, dipping into its coffers to subsidise shifts during the very quiet periods.
"We did our very best to maintain shifts for our drivers so they still had an income," Mr Watson said.
"We subsidised that quite heavily."
Mr Watson said the skyrocketing petrol prices were another blow to the business, which is struggling to find enough drivers to meet demand.
"We're obviously not feeling very good about the rising cost of petrol, but it's totally out of our control," he said.
"The rising costs chews away a fair bit at our margins."
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Mr Watson said regional operators could increase fares, but he would only do that as a last resort.
"We might have to review it at some point but we would only do that if we got to a situation where it was costing us money to offer a service," he said.
Mr Watson said on top of the COVID-19 pandemic and fuel prices, he was desperate for new drivers.
He said this often meant people were experiencing delays when ordering a taxi.
"We've been short of drivers for months," Mr Watson said. "It's very disappointing - to say the least - we hate when our clients are waiting longer than they usually would for a taxi."
Mr Watson said it was an issue he had not experienced in more than three decades.
Meanwhile, Boyle's Transport has introduced a fuel levy in the wake of the latest price spike.
Owner Anthony Boyle said he made the decision due to the uncertainty of how much prices will rise.
"We're very concerned about what's going on and we're putting in adjustments," he said.
Mr Boyle said he had been forced to introduce a fuel levy in 2010 when the price of petrol jumped from about $1 a litre to between $1.60 and $1.70. He said the price of equipment had also increased by about 40 per cent in the past five years.
Mr Boyle said the COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on the supply chain, with staff shortages in other industries having an impact on his business.
"Our customers have been understanding about the fuel levy and they're working with us," he said.
The Reserve Bank of Australia, in its March board meeting, said consumers were already feeling the pinch from petrol prices rising to more than $2 a litre.
The impact on household budgets from record petrol prices has also seen consumer confidence tumble 4.3 per cent in the past week to 95.8, its lowest level since October 2020.
"Households are certainly noticing the effect of higher prices on their finances," ANZ head of Australian economics David Plank said.
The recent spike in global crude oil prices to around $US130 per barrel as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine could see further rises in petrol prices in the short term.
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