Brisbane’s taxi situation out of control

The Queensland Government desperately needs to reform Brisbane’s taxi licensing system. There are only two taxi companies in the market: Black and White Cabs and Yellow Cabs.

4pm on any weekday, anywhere in Brisbane, you can not get a cab. Tourists take note if you are trying to get to the airport!

My wife was waiting for a taxi in the city the other day around 4pm. She had been waiting 20 minutes about four back from the head of the queue, with no cabs in sight.

A taxi turns up, drops someone off, and then speeds off empty.

A second cab turns up, and this is where it goes pear shaped. The cab picks someone up from the tail of the queue, and then moves forward to near the front of the line, waiting for the lights to change. The guy at the front of the line goes ballistic and smashes the taxi’s passenger-side rear vision mirror. The driver gets out and a brawl follows.

My wife finally gets a cab after waiting for about 30 minutes and tells her driver this story. Apparently it is a common problem in Brisbane — cab rage. There are so few cabs around at 4pm that ordinary people who are extraordinarily frustrated go ballistic!

The problem stems from the fact that practically every cab in Brisbane changes its driver shift at 4pm. So about 3pm, taxi drivers start making their way back to various bases to be cleaned and drivers changed to the night shift drivers. By 4pm, there are long queues all around Brisbane and no cabs in sight. With workers trying to get back to their offices after meetings, and then following on to peak hour, the cab situation is out of control.

The Queensland Government must do something. Some options are:

  • reduce the duopoly by introducing another cab company into the Brisbane market
  • legislate so that cab companies must stagger their shift change over times, so that the entire cab fleet is not off the road at once
  • put more cabs on the roads with the existing cab companies — although this is not as good as (a), which will introduce more competition into the market.

The Queensland Government must stop pandering to the powerful cab companies who are in a duopoly and are protecting their drivers’ fat profits on taxi licenses. The government must consider the greater good of Brisbane’s residents.

Of course, none of the above even considers the situation on Friday and Saturday nights when cabs are equally hard to get, but for different reasons. In recent years, people have been killed in fights in cab lines.

Queensland Government: do something before more innocent people get hurt.

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