For those of you who don’t know it yet: Taxi service in Melbourne is atrocious. Many drivers are inexperienced, misogynistic, have mental issues and are outright dangerous. The State of Victoria has not yet found a way to deal with this, but they have their own Wikipedia page on the issue, which is worth calling out..
However, whenever a problem exists for long enough, someone will eventually have a fix for it..
This is where Uber comes in. Uber has operated in Melbourne for over 4 years now and is making transport in Melbourne, safer, better and cheaper.
Which is why the Victorian Taxi Association is trying to ban uber them down, by using their political influence on the government.
Here is my letter to Jacinta Allan, Minister for Public Transport in Victoria:
I choose Uber and am showing my support for Uber in Victoria.
In the last 5 years the taxi industry in Victoria has continuously declined in quality of service, adequate pricing and most of all safety.
I lodged several complaints with the VTD (now the Taxi Services Commission) about abusive taxi drivers, one of them verbally abusing me and my girlfriend, another driving off whilst I had one foot out of the cab, almost causing severe injury.
I have encountered victorian taxi drivers who were on drugs and freely admitted to it whilst driving, drivers who threatened me because I didn’t have cash and refused to take payment by card and I have seen more than hundred drivers who locked the doors, ask where I wanted to go and drove off, refusing the fare, because it either “Wasn’t going in their direction”, “Is too short a fare”, “Or they already had a booking”. These were broad daylight encounters and more the norm, than the exception.
At least two of my female friends refuse to get into taxis alone or don’t use Victorian taxis at all. One of them has been sexually assaulted, beaten and was left a bloody mess on the side of the road. The driver has never been found and is probably still in your service. This is not a single case as a quick Google search reveals. This is a serious issue and you haven’t found a way to address passenger and taxi driver safety to prevent these incidents.
None of my formal inquiries and complaints with the VTD have lead anywhere, like many other Victorians I feel powerless, abused and unsafe when stepping into a Victorian taxi. The system is broken and the taxi industry inquiry announced by the state of Victoria in 2011 and its alleged following changes have not shown any visible effect for taxi customers in Victoria.
The State of Victoria has no working way of ensuring passengers safety and quality of service, there is no functioning feedback loop for the State of Victoria between drivers, passengers and the system that connects them.
There is no way to identify drivers who endanger passengers and other drivers, as well as there is no way to identify potentially dangerous passengers to protect your taxi drivers.
Uber has found a way to restore the faith for me and many of my friends, that there is a better way of dealing with this. Bending to the nonsensical approach of banning Uber, rather than fixing the core of the problem at hand is not the right way to go.
Please focus on fixing the real problem here, make Victorian taxis safer, commercially viable and for customer desirable to use as a service. Don’t shut down a much stronger competitor by force of political power, this will not fix the issue and only increase the multitude of problems you have yet to solve.
The Minister needs to hear the same feedback we do every day. Things like…
- I use uberX because…
- Ubers are always reliable and pick me up faster
- I have had friendly rides with fantastic service
- I can rate the driver & I feel safe in an Uber
- My Uber is 20-30% cheaper than a taxi
…what Uber experience will you share?