Overwhelming dissatisfaction with taxi services across the country has prompted calls for a federal government review of the industry.
The poor standard of taxi services is a major concern for the tourism industry, says a group representing the tourism, transport and infrastructure sectors.
A national review of the structure of the taxi industry was needed after efforts by various state governments had failed to lift standards, the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) said.
A survey conducted by the TTF showed more than two-thirds of chief executives were dissatisfied with the taxi industry while 83 per cent of those surveyed said they supported industry reform to open up greater levels of competition.
“The consensus is that drivers are not properly trained, cars are not kept clean and tidy, and booking services are unreliable,” TTF managing director Chris Brown said.
“State governments have tried to lift industry standards, through the introduction of accreditation schemes and other measures.
“But the problem lies with the structure of the industry itself.”
The taxi industry needed to be shaken up from top to bottom, he said.
“The industry has shown that it won’t reform itself. It’s time to wheel out the big guns. The Federal Government can get the ball rolling by commissioning a serious national review of taxi operations, leading the way for meaningful structural reform of this underperforming industry.”
Sydney was considered the worst city for taxi services by almost half of the those surveyed.
But Mr Brown said many of the concerns regarding the taxi industry were consistent across all major cities.
He said there was also an economic cost as a result of the poor performance of the industry.
“Bad customer experiences can affect a visitor’s perception of a city and, potentially, deter that person from coming back.
“The damage to our tourism brand from bad visitor experiences is hard to quantify, but it undoubtedly has an economic cost to the nation.”
Some of the major problems included lack of availability on weekday afternoons, especially at “changeover” time, on Friday evenings and at major events.