Kelly in the Media

Taxi drivers leaving meter running while also receiving new $10 ‘lifting fee’ for disabled passengers

Mile Kemp | Advertiser

DISABLED taxi passengers are being ripped off by drivers who are keeping meters running while also collecting a new $10 “lifting fee”.

The lifting fee introduced this month was itself designed to stop rorting, after Access Cab drivers were caught loading and unloading slowly to maximise meter charges.

But Dignity Party MLC Kelly Vincent has produced evidence that some drivers are double charging; running the meter as well as collecting the new fee.

Ms Vincent said the system needed to be better explained to the disabled and their carers, who did not properly understand their rights.

“There are big problems with the implementation of the lifting fee for access taxis,” she said. “The main problem constituents are reporting is drivers inconsistently applying the fee, and running the meter when they shouldn’t.”

Access Cab passengers are subsidised 50 per cent or 75 per cent of their ride fee, meaning drivers are also ripping off the taxpayer.

Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan has confirmed that he has referred incidences of the double charging to the department for action.

“Drivers have been given detailed instructions on how the new lifting fee is to work,” he said. “I would urge any passenger who believes a driver is rorting the system to report it to the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure.

“All incidents raised with me have been referred to DPTI for investigation.”

Access Fleet Advisory Association president Louis Zhang said there was still confusion over the lifting fee . “(Rorting claims) could be true but at this stage, it is the learning processes for everyone in the industry, including the customers,” he said.

“Lack of communication from the department to drivers, owners and customers has also caused those problems.” Ms Vincent said the changes were complex and had not been well explained.

“The South Australian Government was years behind other states in implementing a lifting fee and abolishing metering the lifting and disembarking,” she said.

“Now we finally have it, but it is obvious there are mixed messages about how the fee is supposed to work.

“Wheelchair users are at risk of being exploited by drivers if there are not clear guidelines about which tariffs and fees apply, and when they apply.

“There is significant confusion in the disability community … we urgently need upto-date guidelines communicated to voucher users.” Mr Mullighan pledged to issue new information for the disabled and in a format that all could understand.