ONE of Rockingham’s business stalwarts, Rainbow Taxis, have sadly had to turn off the meter for the last time after more than 25 years.
Citing increasing pressure from the rapid growth of ridesharing companies biting into the market, owners Kathy and Malcolm Evans say they have been squeezed out of business.
They say the State Government’s plate buyback scheme sealed the fate of the business.
“There is no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow,” Mrs Evans said.
“With all the rules now, it is harder to run a taxi.
“Our older clients go to the shops to buy toys for their grandkids and use our service; they won’t know that our business has closed.”
His plates are worth more than $300,000.
“We bought them for $320,000 in 2014 and have been offered $250,000 from the buyback,” he said.
“I paid $95,000 for my plates bought in 1989 and they are giving us $100,000 for those; but they have charged a ‘monopoly profit’ of $54,000 as well.
“How did we have a monopoly when ridesharing came in 2014? Then we were offered to be able to rent our plates back.
“They said it’s a voluntary buyback but you can’t refuse or you end up with nothing.
“After the cut-off date of May 31, the plates are worthless. They expire.
“How is that ‘voluntary’?
“According to legislation you can’t appeal the decision either.”
Bob Velev of LPG Taxis Combined Services is also facing closure after handing in almost half of his plates.
“I lost the goodwill clients from the seven plates I used to own,” he said.
“I used to employ 14 drivers and lost most to ridesharing companies.
“I have returned three plates and have just four now.
“Now I do all the work; maintenance on the taxis as I’m the licensed mechanic.
“I’m 65 I want to work – what am I going to do – go on a pension? Sitting at home? I’d go crazy.
What concerns Mr Velev the most is the lack of regulations ridesharing companies face.
“It was the lack of regulations which attracts drivers to these companies,” he said
“It is an illegal service – it used to just be for workers to cover costs and reduce travel costs but now these companies are dedicated driver services. They have the same driver.
“We can do nothing.”
All taxi plate owners have been asked to participate in a voluntary buy back scheme for the surrender of their taxi plates in accordance with the new Transport (Road Passenger) Services Act 2018.
A Department of Transport spokesperson said the buyback was a generous offer.
“The taxi buyback scheme has been carefully deliberated and as such has resulted in the most generous buyback offer in the country,” they said.
“The purpose of the buyback is to support taxi plate owners to transition to an annual taxi authorisation, with a one-off payment based on an individual plate’s purchase price, period of plate ownership and how much the plate has earned over time.
“The taxi plate buyback scheme is voluntary, and it is up to individual plate holders to decide whether they wish to participate and receive the buyback for their plate(s). Plate holders have been sent application forms and are being asked to state whether they wish to participate in the buyback and whether they wish to stay in the industry or exit.
“From mid-2019 the current arrangements for owned and leased Perth taxi plates will cease. All plate holders who wish to stay in the industry (regardless of their participation in the buyback) will be offered a Passenger Transport Vehicle (PTV) authorisation for rank or hail taxi work.
“Plate holders may also choose to exit the industry following the buyback and, if so they will need to surrender their plates to the Department of Transport.”