Cabbies left out in the cold
A DRAFT report recommending taxi fares in Coffs Harbour be frozen for the next 12 months has angered the city's cabbies.
The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) this month released its draft review of taxi fares outside the Sydney metropolitan area for the 2015/16 financial year.
The review recommended a freeze on taxi fares from July 1, claiming it would "improve affordability for passengers".
Coffs Harbour Taxis managing director Sebastian Livolsi said the freeze would place pressure on drivers who had already experienced three years of slim increases.
"In the past three years there has only been a 2% increase in fares - CPI does not exist for this industry," he said.
"A further freeze on fares would make life difficult for drivers to make a living and put something away for the future."
Coffs Harbour taxi driver Brett Graham said the freeze on fares would also affect the availability and quality of services in the region.
"Drivers work on commission and to freeze fares is to freeze the ability to pay rent and to buy food," he said.
"It will become harder to retain experienced drivers and you'd see a very casualised workforce where people come and go.
"At the end of the day it will impact on the service."
Among the reviews other recommendations include the reform of taxi licensing arrangements.
The draft report cited Coffs Harbour as one of several areas where a licence can change hands for more than $200,000.
"Current fare levels are a symptom rather than a cause of the problem (and) we believe that licensing issues need to be addressed as a priority," the report said.
"The only way to improve affordability, availability and service quality is by reforming taxi licensing arrangements to reduce the barriers to entering the taxi market."
IPART is also recommending a state-wide review of point-to-point transport regulations in the face of increasing competition from hire cars, car sharing and other alternative transport.
Submissions to IPART's draft report and the proposed fare freeze will be accepted until May 15.
The draft report, along with further information about IPART's review and public roundtables, is available at IPART's website.