DiDi debut stirscabbies’ angst

Catherine Massey and Ailish DelaneyBusselton Dunsborough Times
Bunbury Taxis driver Navdeep Kumar, Doug Slater and Busselton Taxi director Jeff Devenny.
Camera IconBunbury Taxis driver Navdeep Kumar, Doug Slater and Busselton Taxi director Jeff Devenny. Credit: Stuart McGuckin

DiDi launched in Busselton and Bunbury this month amid worries of local taxi customers being snatched up by out of city drivers.

No restrictions exist for DiDi ride share drivers who can claim work between regions, putting pressure on the already strained local taxi business.

Bunbury Taxis driver Navdeep Kumar said ride share drivers were desperate and lacking compliance.

“They just operate ad hoc and take the peak work which means full time taxi drivers who rely on this for wages cannot earn an ethical income across the week,” Mr Kumar said.

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DiDi spokesman Dan Jordan said he felt DiDi and local taxi industries could operate well in the South West region together.

“We don’t feel that we’re taking too much business away from the taxi industry,” Mr Jordan said.

The DiDi launch comes as the taxi industry was feeling the pressure of an “inequitable and unjust” State Government taxi plate Buy Back scheme.

More than 800 WA taxi owners have signed a petition calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the inequities between the metropolitan Buy Back scheme and the regional assistance scheme.

Mr Kumar, who is also the inquiry’s lead petitioner, said Bunbury was at high risk of no longer having a 24/7 taxi service, which was not a problem metro areas faced.

“There is a disparity in the way taxi drivers are treated in regional areas,” Mr Kumar said

Mr Kumar said the Department of Transport’s conduct had been disgraceful, and the loss of taxi plates as well as business income going to ride share companies had caused his business to experience significant hardship.

“There was no consultation with regional operators to ensure reforms didn’t impact on them negatively,” he said.

South West MLC Adele Farina said the deregulation of the taxi industry had resulted in taxi owners losing their taxi plate investments.

She said without financial assistance equal to that paid to metropolitan taxi owners, country towns may lose their 24/7 taxi services as it becomes financially unsustainable.

The petition was presented to parliament last week.

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