Urgent need as access taxi users waiting on a ride and another year for Labor’s review

Sunday 13 August, 2023

The Opposition is calling on the Malinauskas Labor Government to fast track a year-long review into access taxis - which Tom Koutsantonis admits will take at least another 12 months to finish - as the state’s most vulnerable battle huge wait times for transport.

Labor launched the review 11 months ago, but Tom Koutsantonis revealed in Estimates that its completion “is at least 12 months away”, leaving access taxi users and operators frustrated with the never-ending assessment.

Labor’s stretched timeline means it could be years until industry reform is implemented, if at all, and despite Tom Koutsantonis recently rebranding access taxis as an “essential service”.

Industry leaders say access taxis missed out on the $1 Transport Levy scheme - brought in by Labor following the introduction of ridesharing in SA - which has discouraged existing owners to invest in new vehicles and equipment.

They also say financial incentives for access taxi drivers could be a starting point to improve the reliability of the crucial service to support vulnerable South Australians.

Leader of the Opposition, David Speirs, called on the Malinauskas Labor Government to fast track the review with urgency.

“We have heard horror stories from some of South Australia’s most vulnerable waiting more than five hours for an access taxi just to get from point a to point b, or even a surgery in the most extreme case, and it’s not good enough,” Mr Speirs said.

“We know the CBD is not a safe place at night with rising crime levels and we need to make sure that those who require an access taxi aren’t just left on the sidewalk hoping they’ll be picked up eventually, which is a huge safety risk.

“We’re calling on the Malinauskas Labor Government to fast track the access taxi review - it’s already been a year and forcing people in need to wait another year just isn’t an option. We need solutions now that cater to those looking for transport and those who are trying to earn a living during the cost of living crisis.”

Shadow Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Vincent Tarzia, said access taxi users need reliable transport to live their everyday lives.

“Some of our most vulnerable South Australians rely on access taxis to get to medical appointments, do their shopping, or have a social life,” Mr Tarzia said.

“Imagine calling an access taxi to get to a crucial medical appointment and one doesn’t ever show up - or if it does, it’s hours too late and you are powerless to do anything about it.

“We need to see this issue sorted once and for all in a fair way for all parties.”

Shadow Minister for Disability, Communities and Youth, Heidi Girolamo, said the community couldn’t afford to wait years for a solution.

“Those who need access taxis deserve to have transport they can rely on, and that’s why we need this review completed as quickly as possible so we can look at solutions to fix this issue,” Mrs Girolamo said.

“Any fix must be a whole of system approach so we can support vulnerable South Australians with reliable transport, and drivers or business operators who are trying to earn a living in these tough economic times.”