Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 7 Hansard (3 July) . . Page.. 2700..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
reporting the story in light of that advice, and from following potential media that was to occur people made decisions about whether or not they pursued it in light of the advice from disability, housing and community services.
Transport—taxis and hire cars
MR GENTLEMAN: My question is to the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services in his capacity as minister responsible for transport. Minister, can you advise the Assembly what actions the Stanhope Labor government has taken to address the ailments of the taxi and hire car industries?
MR HARGREAVES: I thank Mr Gentleman for the question and note, in particular, Mr Gentleman's ongoing interest in transport and related issues. In the 10 years up to 2001 nothing was done by the Liberal government around taxi issues and bus issues. In fact, I am struggling to remember anything that they did, other than paint grass green and come up with the horrendous cost of some infrastructure projects around town such as the infamous Bruce Stadium.
The government realised that taxis and hire cars were not delivering particularly well for the people of Canberra. In relation to the hire car industry, it bought back all the perpetual plates. I think it was about $220,000 per taxi plate. It then issued lease plates.
I can advise the Assembly that there are currently 39 standard taxi plates. Incidentally, there are 52 RHVs out there on the streets. These do special events such as weddings and the occasional funeral—just in case you wanted to know, Mr Pratt. There were 23 hire cars in the game when we changed it. That is a 70 per cent increase. My reports from participants in that industry are that it is a very lucrative business.
We also had complaints about the wheelchair accessible taxi system. This government convened a working group, which was co-chaired by the then chair of the Disability Advisory Council, Craig Wallace, and the CEOs of disability, housing and community services and TAMS, which it now is under Mike Zissler. They came up with I think 44 recommendations. The government accepted them all.
We are now seeing more wheelchair-accessible taxis on the road. It recently went through a hiccup when I think 12 plates were returned. They are now back on the streets. My information today is that that service has picked up incredibly and is now delivering for the people of Canberra.
People would be aware of the recent Nightlink exercise in which we engaged with Aerial taxis. That initiative started on 29 February, as I said, in partnership with Aerial. You might like to know that six vehicles are providing Nightlink service. These vehicles have carried out 609 hirings in the first four months, with numbers growing every week. Just this past weekend, Nightlink experienced a dramatic increase in job numbers and operator earnings—get this, Mr Speaker—with 29 jobs being done on Friday night and 32 on Saturday. That is an average of 30 trips on those two nights—30 groups going home safely from a night out on the town.