Source: The Herald -Sun, 7 April, 2001, p.17


Drivers avoid club scene

 
 
LATE-night attacks on 
Melbourne taxi drivers 
are becoming more 
frequent and more 
violent. 
 
   New figures from the 
Victorian Taxi 
Directorate reveal 54 
drivers were assaulted in 
the six months to 
January. 
 
   This compares with 36 
incidents for the 
previous 12 months. 
 
   And the number of 
armed robberies has in- 
creased to 30 in the half 
year, 10 more than the 
previous year. 
 
The growing tide of 
violence is believed to 
be one of the key factors 
behind a shortage of taxi 
drivers in Melbourne. 
 
   The Victorian Taxi 
Association believes the 
city is about 2000 
drivers short. 
 
   The violence is also 
deterring drivers from 
picking up passengers 
from nightclub venues. 
 
   The association's chief 
executive, Neil Sach, 
said offensive behaviour 
of passengers meant 
many drivers stayed 
away from club zones. 
 
   "Up to 12 o'clock, 
they get passengers who 
are pretty good. After 
that they get the ragers," 
he said. "There are spots 
that drivers avoid." 
 
   He said drivers feared 
attacks, vomiting in the 
car, lewd behaviour and 
people fleeing without 
paying. 
 
   Fare evasion, or 
"runners" as they are 
known in the industry, 
were a growing problem, 
Mr Sach said. 
 
   "Passengers may not 
have any money. So 
many people expect the 
driver to take them home 
and they expect them to 
do it for nothing," he 
said. 
 
   "There's a lot of verbal 
abuse too, especially 
towards drivers who are 
new immigrants. 
 
   "A lot of passengers 
are great but the bad 
ones are bad." 
 
   Mr Sach said low 
unemployment also was 
causing the driver 
shortage. 
 
   "We just don't have the 
drivers to man the cars," 
Mr Sach said. 
 
   He said the shortage 
meant many taxis were 
not operating on Friday 
and Saturday nights. 
 
   Nightclub Owners 
Association president 
Peter Iwaniuk said the 
shortage of late-night taxis 
was a major problem. 
 
   "We've been lobbying 
the State Government to 
get better transport," Mr 
Iwaniuk said. 
 
   "Melbourne's a 24- 
hour city now, there's 
always something 
happening around the 
casino." 
 
   He said the lack of late- 
night transport was a 
world-wide problem. 
 
   "You go out into the 
city for a night out with 
your wife and friends and 
you can't get home. You 
have to walk," he said. 
 
- IAN ROYALL


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