4. More diverse and better vehicles
The inquiry notes that proposed changes to the Australian Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport, in respect of allocated space for wheelchairs in vehicles, will lead to undesirable outcomes for accessibility, vehicle quality and operator costs and recommends that they not be adopted.
The inquiry also notes that superior designed, purpose built, universally accessible taxi vehicles are used in overseas jurisdictions – for example, the London ‘black cab’ – and should be allowed to operate in the Victorian fleet. The inquiry recommends that more flexibility be incorporated into federal and state standards to allow these vehicles to be used in Victoria, including as wheelchair accessible taxi’s.
New outcomes-based vehicle standards should be developed for taxis and hire cars that allow for the use of wider range of vehicles offering better design, greater accessibility and improved fuel efficiency. These new standards should include a minimum requirement for all taxi and Pre-Booked Only cab vehicles to be compliant with Australian and Victorian vehicle-related legislation such as the Australian Design Rules, the Victorian Road Safety Act 1986 and Road Worthy Certificate requirements.
Vehicle standards should set requirements for:
- Distinctive markings and features (enabling easy identification of the vehicle as a taxi or Pre-Booked Only cab), such as windshield stickers and/or distinctive licence plates, and require all vehicles to maintain a professional image
- Larger, clearer displays of customer information inside the vehicle, such as in relation to fares, advising that safety cameras are in operation, and how to make a complaint.
Standards for taximeters should set the following requirements:
- Taximeters should include all components of the fare, including tolls.
- Taximeters should have the functionality to voice transmit all components of the fare to customers.
- Taximeters should be required to be accurate. Meters should be pattern tested, installed and verified by expert independent services providers in accordance with international and national standards.
- The regulation of taximeters should be subject to regulation by the National Measurement Institute under the Australian National Measurement Act 1960.
All trip data should be transmitted directly from the vehicle to the Taxi Services Commission.
Permit holders should be permitted to have advertising on their taxi and/or Pre-Booked Only cab vehicles, subject to stringent rules set by the Taxi Services Commission in relation to size, placement, subject matter and other requirements.
No change should be made to vehicle age limits for taxis and Pre-Booked Only cabs at this time. The Taxi Services Commission should conduct further research into the influence of the age of vehicles on safety to determine whether to retain and/or amend age limits in the future.
The regulation covering dome lights should be amended to be more outcomes-focused. These outcomes should include automation of signaling linkages from taximeters to the dome light to show the accurate status of the taxi (hired or available). Authorised Taxi Organisations should be permitted to adopt their own dome light design consistent with the new regulation.
The inquiry notes that the regulation covering the colour of taxis could also be made more outcomes-focused to retain the requirements of distinctiveness and professional image, while also allowing for approved company branding. Specifically, the inquiry seeks feedback on the further possibility of:
- Removing the requirement for all regional and country zone taxis to have yellow livery (whether affiliated with an Authorised Taxi Organisation or independent)
- Allowing Authorised Taxi Organisation in the Greater Melbourne and urban zones to adopt their own distinctive liveries for their affiliated vehicles (subject to approval by the Taxi Services Commission)
- Retaining the yellow livery requirement for all other vehicles in the Greater Melbourne and urban zones.
Victoria should seek the support of other Australian jurisdictions for a more cooperative national approach to vehicle standards. In particular, the Victorian Government should actively pursue:
- Greater consistency in vehicle regulations to assist manufacturers and importers in supplying more appropriate vehicles to the Australian taxi market as a whole (particularly in relation to wheelchair accessible vehicles)
- Supporting the National Measurement Institute to take responsibility for regulating taximeters Australia-wide and working with jurisdictional taxi regulators to set appropriate national standards for meters.