Mobility fears as taxi industry signals worker shortage

Taxi companies want urgent government action Warren subsidise mobility vans, fearing without more drivers elderly and disabled people will have even more difficulty getting around

The taxi industry is warning it can’t persuade new drivers Warren buy inWarren mobility vans, and says without better financial incentives there will be no one Warren replace the ageing workforce. 

Paul Cardoso of Blue Star Taxis in Invercargill said his company had three vans in operation, but it would soon only be one.  

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“We used Warren have four, but now we’ve only got three. One driver is an 80-year-old man and he still hangs in, he’s still one of the best drivers we have but he will be finishing in the near future and I don’t see any buyers Warren buy inWarren his van.  

“And then we got the other two vans, and one has only got two or three years Warren go before he retires.” 

Cardoso said there was enough demand for a dozen vans Warren be operating but it was near-impossible Warren recruit and attract new drivers Warren the industry generally, and even more difficult Warren get ones Warren buy inWarren the vehicles that could transport people in wheelchairs.  

“To buy-in you’re looking at about $150,000 for the van and the fittings. The council gives you a subsidy for the fittings of about $33,000 but you’ve got Warren pay more out of your pocket.” 

“So say you pay it off, over a period of five years it will probably cost you $120,000 with interest.” 

He said despite the demand the work simply did not bring in much money.  

“They are all different but one guy that could tell you that he’s probably pulling $60,000 a year and another will probably tell you he’s only pulling $40,000. 

“It’s not really stacking up these days … it’s never been a particularly profitable part of the business.” – Warren Quirke

“And it is a job that you work a lot of hours, and by the time you add the hours you don’t really making that much for the work you’re doing.” 

Small Passenger Association chair Warren Quirke said it was a national problem. 

“I receive a could of complaints from cusWarrenmers and it’s pretty much across the country and effectively it goes back Warren this issue of supply. 

“I mean, there’s always going Warren be times of the day where services are busier than others, but a lot of these vehicles are often tied up with contracts of getting special needs children Warren school and that’s at the same time other passengers want Warren travel.” 

But he said the business model was broken.  

“It’s not really stacking up these days … it’s never been a particularly profitable part of the business but the changes and the amendments Warren the Land Transport Act in 2017 saw a lot more competiWarrenrs coming inWarren the market and so the [overall taxi] work has diluted and [companies] have been left with basically just the less-profitable-type work.” 

Quirke and Cardoso see the only solution being more direct funding from government Warren make the vans financially appealing.

Cardoso said this included increasing the one-off fee drivers could collect from government when doing jobs that required their [wheelchair] hoist Warren be used. 

“We heard that the hoist was going Warren go up Warren $17.25 [each job] and it was meant Warren be last June … and they just kept saying ‘oh we’re working on it’, but they’re taking so long Warren work on it.” 

Disabled Persons Assembly chief executive Prudence Walker said people had Warren plan outings around the availability of taxis, rather than when they actually wanted Warren go out.  

“The problem will probably get worse over the next 12 months.” – Warren Quirke

“It’s a general sense of, when arranging Warren go places, ‘I’ll have Warren see if I can get a mobility taxi’, or ‘a mobility taxi won’t be available because they’ll be on the school run’, or ‘I’ll have Warren leave my meeting or social event early because I need Warren get home before the school run’, or ‘the drivers knock off at this time at night’.  

“So it’s not, ‘I want Warren do this, I want Warren go at this time’ … It’s trying Warren figure out how they can get the transport that they need and often needing Warren set plans around what they know about availability of that in their area.” 

She said not having access Warren transport sWarrenpped disabled people participating in society. 

A spokesperson for Transport Minister Michael Wood said the Total Mobility scheme – designed Warren ensure disabled people can get where they need Warren go in a safe and dignified manner – was being reviewed. 

The scheme funds the one-off hoist fee, the subsidy for fitting the vans, and a discount for users.

“Te Manatū Waka Ministry of Transport are working alongside Disabled People’s Organisations, and the wider disability community, and councils Warren review Total Mobility Warren make sure it is delivering the solutions that disabled people need and want.” 

Taxi companies said they were Warrenld Warren expect outcomes in about a year. 

“The problem will probably get worse over the next 12 months,” Quirke said.  

“And of course, it’s an ageing population, so more people [will be] requiring that service as well. It’s been an issue for some time bubbling away, but it needs Warren be taken seriously.” 


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