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Taxis and luxury hire cars

Introduction

Taxis and luxury hire cars are an important part of Tasmania?s passenger transport system.  Unlike buses, which transport large numbers of people over set routes at regular times, taxis and luxury hire cars take up to four passengers (or more in maxi taxis) directly to where they want to go, when they want to go.

The different taxis and hire cars used in Tasmania are listed below.
 
  • Standard taxis can be sedans or station wagons, or sometimes small people movers.  Some of the larger vehicles can carry up to 12 passengers, but most standard taxis can carry four passengers.  Some of these taxis may be labelled as ?silver service? taxis.
  • Wheelchair accessible taxis (WATs) are normally people movers or passenger vans.  These vehicles can carry passengers in wheelchairs, as well as able-bodied passengers. Some WATs are branded or marked as 'maxi taxis', which refers to their alternative use as carriers of large groups of people.
  • Luxury hire cars provide pre-booked transport in a luxury vehicle or limousine.  There are currently over 500 taxis operating in Tasmania, and about 45 luxury hire cars.  Most of these vehicles operate in either Hobart or Launceston.

Catching a taxi

How do I catch a taxi?
You can get a taxi in any of these ways:

  • from a taxi rank;
  • by hailing (or waving down) a taxi approaching you in the street;
  • by calling a taxi network/company or your local taxi service provider; or
  • by calling a taxi driver directly.

Taxi networks and service providers are listed in the Yellow Pages under 'Taxi Cabs'.

If you want to hail a taxi, you should do this in a safe place.  Do not stand in the middle of the road to hail a taxi, as the driver might not see you and you could get hurt.
 
If a taxi is stopped at a red light, you should wait in a safe place on the side of the road.  Do not try and get into the taxi while it is stopped at the lights.  If the taxi is vacant and it is safe to do so, it should pull over and pick you up. 

A taxi might not always be able to stop for you because it might be on its way to another job.

Where do taxis operate?

Taxis operate in all cities in Tasmania, as well as in many regional centres.

Each taxi must operate within one of Tasmania?s 24 designated taxi areas.  Roughly speaking, the taxi areas match up with the local government (council) areas.  Taxis may operate wholly within their authorised area, or they may take passengers from their authorised area into another area, or from outside their authorised area back into that area.  They cannot normally operate wholly outside the area for which they are authorised.

For example, a Launceston taxi can take a passenger from Launceston to Devonport, but it cannot start a new trip with other passengers to somewhere else in Devonport once it has finished the first trip.  It can only take passengers back to Launceston.

How do I recognise a taxi?

All taxis must have roof signs, which show they are taxis. A roof sign has the words 'taxi' or 'cab' or the name of the taxi network or company on it.

Many taxis also have signage and colouring that identifies the network or company they belong to.  While most taxis are part of one of the major networks, some taxis (particularly in Hobart) do not belong to networks and operate independently.  Some of these 'independent' taxis do not have the distinctive signage and colours that the taxis operating as part of a network or taxi company have.

A taxi must have a taxi licence plate displayed near its front registration plate.  The taxi licence plate identifies the area that the taxi operates in (two or three letters) and its number (three numbers).  For example, a licence plate that begins with HB is a Hobart taxi.  BW is a Burnie taxi. 

Licence number plates beginning with two letters and an 'A' (e.g. HBA, LNA) are wheelchair accessible taxis (or WATs).

Other numbers that you might see on a taxi are identification numbers for the network.  These numbers are not related to the official taxi licence numbering system.

All taxis are required to have their taxi registration number, in raised lettering, affixed to each passenger door.  This is to allow visually impaired customers to identify the taxi.

What is a taxi rank?
A taxi rank is a section of a public street that taxis can park in when they are available for hire. Local councils are responsible for deciding where taxi ranks are located and how big they are.

You can identify a taxi rank by the red and white 'Taxi Zone' sign.

Taxi ranks are generally located in the main business and shopping areas of cities and towns, as well as near some night clubs and hotels.  Some areas also have temporary taxi ranks, which are restricted to taxis during certain hours, but are normal parking spaces the rest of the time. 

You must not stop your vehicle on a taxi rank (or a temporary taxi rank within the hours specified on the sign) unless you are driving a taxi.  You can be fined for illegally parking on a taxi rank.

How do I know if a taxi is available for hire?
All taxis standing on a taxi rank are available for hire.

You cannot hire a taxi that is parked on a public street unless it is on a taxi rank, or you have booked the taxi to pick you up from that place.  Sometimes when there are many people are waiting for taxis and there is no dedicated taxi rank (such as after concerts, festivals or sporting events), the venue might designate an area as ?taxis only? to make it easier for people to catch taxis.

Except when they are on a taxi rank, taxis are not permitted to park on public streets to solicit for trade.  This means that a driver must not park a taxi on the street and encourage people to hire the taxi.  However, this does not stop them from picking up a passenger who hails them in the street.

A driver must display a 'not for hire' sign whenever the taxi is parked on a public street, unless it is waiting for a pre-booked passenger.

A taxi that is not for hire for any reason, including times when its taxi equipment is not operating correctly, must display a 'not for hire' sign.  It is an offence for a driver to pick up a passenger if a 'not for hire' sign is displayed.

If a taxi is on a public street and is available for hire, the taxi roof-sign will be turned on.  If the roof sign is not turned on the taxi is not available for hire.

If one or more of the yellow tariff lights (the small lights on either side of the roof sign) are turned on, this means that the taxi is under hire.

Do I have to take the first taxi on the taxi rank?
No.  You can take any taxi on a taxi rank.

A taxi driver must not tell you that you have to take the first taxi on a rank.  It is an offence for them to do this.

Can a taxi driver refuse to take me?
A taxi driver must always take you from a taxi rank, unless:

  • the driver has a good reason to think that you will not be able to pay the fare; or
  • the driver has a good reason to think that you are a threat to his or her safety or the safe operation of the taxi; or
  • the taxi is not able to safely transport you or something you have with you.  If this is the case, the driver may be able to suggest another taxi on the rank that is more suitable for your requirements.
  • A driver does not have to take you if you hail the taxi from the street.

Do I have to tell the taxi call centre I have a Guide Dog or other assistance dog?
No, but if you want a certain type of vehicle you should advise the call centre when booking the taxi.

Can a taxi driver refuse to take my Guide Dog or other assistance dog?
No.  Taxi drivers must carry Guide Dogs and other certified assistance animals that are travelling with passengers.  It is an offence for them to refuse to carry these animals.

The animal?s owner can decide where the animal should travel.  Provided that this is a safe place for the animal, the driver should not direct the owner to put the animal in another part of the vehicle.

Can I hire a taxi if there will be no passenger?

Yes.  If the driver agrees, you can hire a taxi to carry anything that can be transported safely and legally in the vehicle.  Normal metered fares and charges apply from the pickup point to the drop-off point.

Why do I sometimes have to wait so long for a taxi?
Sometimes a lot of people want taxis at the same time, and passengers have to wait longer than they would like to for a taxi.  This happens most often on Friday and Saturday nights.  As well as there being more people waiting for a taxi, some drivers prefer not to work on these nights, which means there are fewer taxis on the road and longer waiting times.

Waiting times are also longer in other times of high demand, such as at the end of school hours or in bad weather.

In outer suburbs of larger towns and cities, waiting times may be longer because there may not be a taxi close by that can respond straight away. 

When you book a taxi to collect you at a particular time, most taxi companies release your booking request to drivers shortly before the time you have booked.  They don't guarantee that a taxi will arrive at the pre-booked time, and drivers are not obliged to accept your booking.
 

Taxi fares

How much is a taxi fare?
Taxi fares are set by the Government.  The Government reviews fares based on changes in taxi operating costs.  After each review the Minister decides whether or not fares will change.

Taxi fares are made up of:

  • a flagfall, which is the amount on the meter when the taxi is hired;
  • a distance rate; and
  • waiting time, which is added to the fare instead of the distance rate when the taxi is stopped, or travelling at less than a particular speed.

Each taxi must display a notice of the fares that apply to that taxi.

There are four tariffs:

Tariff 1 applies to all standard taxis and wheelchair accessible taxis when no passenger in a wheelchair is carried.  Tariff 1 applies between 6:00 am and 8:00 pm on weekdays other than public holidays.

Tariff 2 applies to all standard taxis and wheelchair accessible taxis when no passenger in a wheelchair is carried.  Tariff 2 applies between 8:00 pm and 6:00 am on weekdays and all day on weekends and public holidays.

Tariff 3 applies to wheelchair accessible taxis when at least one passenger in a wheelchair is carried and less than five passengers are carried.  Tariff 3 applies between 6:00 am and 8:00 pm on weekdays other than public holidays.

Tariff 4 applies to wheelchair accessible taxis when at least one passenger in a wheelchair is carried.  Tariff 4 applies between 8:00 pm and 6:00 am on weekdays and all day on weekends and public holidays.

The high occupancy tariff (?maxi taxi? fare) is charged by wheelchair accessible taxis that are carrying five or more passengers (whether they are in a wheelchair or not) at any time of day.  It is equivalent to tariff 4.
 
The fares for different taxi areas are outlined below:


Standard taxis and WATs when up to 5 non wheelchair passengers are carried
WATS when transporting passengers in wheelchairs
Taxi Area

Hobart
Launceston
Devonport
Burnie
West Tamar
Ulverstone
Perth

Areas not listed

King Island & Flinders Island

All Taxi areas
(When five or more passengers are carried,
the high occupancy tariff (Tariff 4) is charged at all times).

Flagfall
$3.40
$3.40
$4.90
Flagfall
$5.00
Tariff 1 (per km)
$1.84
$1.81
$2.05
Tariff 3 (per km)
$2.04
Tariff 2 (per km)
$2.20
$2.17
$2.46
Tariff 4 (per km)
$2.45
Waiting time
$36.26/hour
$0.60/minute
$35.31/hour
$0.59/minute
$41.49/hour
$0.69/minute
Waiting time

$41.49/hour
$0.69/minute



How do I know if the fare is correct?
A taximeter is programmed to calculate the correct fare for the taxi in which it is installed.  All taximeters are tested by an authorised meter adjuster to make sure that they are correct.  The meter adjuster seals the meter with a lead seal, which verifies that the meter is accurate.

How do I know which tariff is being charged?

The taximeter will show the tariff that is being charged at the time.

When must a fare not be charged?
A taxi driver cannot charge a passenger for any part of a trip where:

  • the taxi is out of fuel, or has broken down;
  • the taxi is involved in an accident;
  • a road or bridge is closed (if the closure was publicly notified in the newspaper);
  • a police officer or transport inspector is investigating an offence involving the taxi or the driver; or
  • an event happens that the driver could have prevented or avoided.

Can I be charged a higher fare if I have a lot of luggage?
No.  The driver must charge you the fare that corresponds with the time of day and the number of people travelling in the vehicle, no matter how much luggage you have.  The driver cannot set the meter to a different tariff (e.g. the high occupancy tariff) simply because you have extra luggage.

When is the meter turned on?
The driver is only allowed to turn the meter on once the taxi has started to move.  The driver must turn the meter off once the taxi has stopped at your destination.

Can I negotiate an off-meter fare?
Yes. You may agree on a fare other than the metered fare with a taxi driver before the trip starts.  However, the driver must still turn the meter on.

A taxi driver cannot make you pay a fare that is higher than the fare shown on the meter at the end of the trip, even if you have agreed on a higher fare.  There is nothing to stop you from paying more if you wish, but the driver must not insist that you pay more than the metered fare (other than the airport charge, if this applies).

Can the driver request a deposit?
Yes.  A taxi driver may ask you for an up-front deposit up to the estimated fare for a trip.  If you don?t pay this deposit the driver may refuse to take you.

Taxi drivers lose money when passengers run off without paying the fare.  To try and stop this, drivers are allowed to ask for a deposit before the journey begins.

Can a taxi be 'multi-hired'?
The term 'multi-hiring' refers to a hiring where two or more people, normally strangers, travelling in a taxi from a common starting point to different destinations in the same general direction.  Each person pays a proportion (e.g. 75 per cent) of the fare that is displayed on the taximeter at the time they reach their destination.  The driver collects a fare from each hirer, but the fare paid by each hirer is normally less than the total fare would have been if they had travelled by themselves.

Multi-hiring of taxis in this way is not permitted in Tasmania and it is an offence to do this. 
 
If you want to hire a taxi to drop passengers off at different locations along the route, this is permitted, but the meter should run continuously for the whole trip and the total fare you pay cannot be higher than the fare shown on the meter at the final drop-off point.

If you have hired a taxi, the driver must not allow anyone else to travel in the taxi without your permission.

Are there any booking fees for taxis?
No. Taxi services in Tasmania are not permitted to charge a booking fee.

What other fees and charges apply to taxis?
For trips that start outside Burnie, Devonport, Hobart or Launceston between 12:30 am and 5:00 am the driver may charge a surcharge of $2.60.

A fee of 10 per cent of the metered fare may be applied to fares that are paid by credit card, EFTPOS or other credit arrangements such as Cabcharge.

The driver may charge a passenger for any tolls, entry and exit fees (such as from the airport) and other similar fees that are charged to the taxi during the trip.  If your trip starts at the Hobart Airport or the Launceston Airport, you will have to pay an airport charge.  The driver must be able to produce a receipt for the fee.

If you soil the taxi (for example, if you are sick) you could be asked to pay a ?soiling fee? of up to $70.00  This is to cover the costs of cleaning the taxi and the time the vehicle is off the road.

Can a taxi driver charge more than the metered fare for carrying a Guide Dog?
No.

What taxi fare concessions are available?
If you are a member of the Government?s Transport Access Scheme (TAS) and you meet certain criteria, you may be able to get subsidised taxi fares.

The TAS assists people who have a permanent and severe disability which prohibits independent access into the community.  ?Permanent? means life-long (that is, not able to be corrected by recognised surgery or treatment).  A qualified medical practitioner must provide an assessment of your disability as part of your application.  The Scheme is not open to people who have temporary disorders or whose condition is expected to improve in time.
 
Taxi fare concessions entitle eligible members to:

  • a 50 per cent fare reduction when travelling in standard taxis. This subsidy is only available to people who meet the income and asset criteria for the issue of a Pensioner Concession Card, Health Care Card or a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card issued by Centrelink, and holders of a Pensioner Concession Card issued by Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) (not a DVA ?Gold Card?); or
  • a 60 per cent fare reduction when travelling in WATs (for wheelchair reliant members of the Scheme only).

A maximum concession of $25.00 per journey applies when using standard taxis.  A maximum concession of $30.00 applies for wheelchair-reliant members when using a WAT.

For further information on the TAS please refer to the following website: http://www.transport.tas.gov.au/pdf/passenger_forms/PTS012-1F_Transport_Access_Scheme.pdf
 

Types of taxi and hire car services

What is a wheelchair accessible taxi (WAT)?
A wheelchair accessible taxi is a taxi that has been modified to carry passengers in wheelchairs.  WATs are larger than sedans and have ramps or hoists so that a wheelchair can be put into the taxi.  There are restraints in the vehicle to secure a wheelchair.  Some WATs can carry two wheelchairs.

Other than their size, WATs are no different to other taxis, and may carry passengers who aren't in wheelchairs.  However, they are expected to give priority to wheelchair-reliant clients if there is a choice between a passenger in a wheelchair and a passenger who is not in a wheelchair.

WATs can also carry large groups of people (five or more) who would normally need two taxis.  This is also called 'maxi taxi' work.  The number of passengers that can be carried depends on the seating capacity of the taxi.  If you need a taxi with more seats you should advise the taxi network of the number of passengers when you are booking the taxi.

The fares for carrying five or more passengers in a WAT are higher than standard fares (refer to the table on page 10 for details of the high occupancy tariff).

At present, WATs are available in the Burnie, Devonport, Hobart, Huon Valley and Launceston taxi areas.

Can I hire a WAT if I am not in a wheelchair?
Yes.  If a WAT is standing on a taxi rank, anyone may hire it, whether they are in a wheelchair or not.

A taxi driver must not tell you that you cannot hire a WAT unless you are in a wheelchair - it is an offence for them to do so.

If you are not in a wheelchair and there are fewer than five passengers, the fare will be the same as for a standard taxi.

What is a 'premium' or 'silver service' taxi?
Some taxi services are called 'premium taxis' or 'silver service' taxis?.  These services use vehicles of a higher standard than is required of taxis by law.  There may also be a dress code for the drivers and an expectation of a higher standard of customer service.

There are no extra legal requirements for ?premium? taxis.  This is simply an advertising label that some operators choose to differentiate their service from other taxi services. 

Fares for these taxis are the same as fares for other taxi services.  It is illegal for an operator to apply a ?silver service? surcharge or to charge higher fares.

What is a luxury hire car?
A luxury hire car provides a service similar to a taxi service.  It can be booked to take passengers from place to place.  These vehicles are usually limousines or stretch limousines.

Luxury hire car fares are normally higher than taxi fares.  Fares aren't calculated using a taximeter.  Fares can be calculated by a charge per kilometre or an hourly rate.  The Government does not regulate luxury hire car fares.

There are several important differences between a luxury hire car service and a taxi service.  Luxury hire cars:

  • cannot stand on taxi ranks or respond to hails.  They can only be pre-booked, and the fare must be agreed in advance;
  • must be vehicles of a higher standard than is required for taxis;
  • don?t have taximeters or roof-signs and may be unmarked;
  • display licence plates that start with the letters 'LHC'; and
  • can operate state-wide; they aren't restricted by taxi area boundaries.

Luxury hire car services can be found in the Yellow Pages under Limousine &/or Car Hire Services
 

Safety of taxis and luxury hire cars

How do I know a taxi or a luxury hire car is a safe vehicle?
Taxis and luxury hire cars are inspected every six months to make sure they are roadworthy.  In addition, Transport Inspectors carry out on-road inspections of these vehicles.  An operator must do a basic safety check on his or her vehicle/s every day as part of the operator accreditation program.

If you believe a taxi or luxury hire car you have travelled in is not mechanically sound and roadworthy, you should advise the operator.  (Refer to the section on making a complaint.)

How do I know a driver is authorised to drive a taxi or luxury hire car?
A person must hold an ancillary certificate before they can drive a taxi or a luxury hire car.  An ancillary certificate is issued by the State Government to a person who meets the relevant requirements.  A person must demonstrate that they are a ?fit and proper? person to drive a taxi or a luxury hire car.  If a person has been convicted of particular serious crimes, they will never be allowed to hold an ancillary certificate.  For less serious crimes, they may be disqualified for a period of time before they can get an ancillary certificate.  They must also pass a medical ?fitness to drive? assessment, and have their medical fitness reassessed regularly.

People wishing to become taxi drivers must also complete a taxi driver training course before they can get an ancillary certificate.  A taxi driver must have completed specific training for transporting people with disabilities before he or she is permitted to drive a WAT.

A driver must display his or her identification card in the vehicle.  The identification card must show a photograph of the driver, the driver's name and his or her ancillary certificate number.

Do all taxis have security cameras?
By law, all taxis in Hobart, Launceston, Burnie, Devonport, West Tamar, Perth and Ulverstone must have security cameras installed and working properly.  This is to protect drivers and passengers.  You will see a sticker on each door of the taxi advising you that the vehicle has security cameras operating and that you will be photographed.

Cameras are not required in other taxi areas or in luxury hire cars.  However, if they are installed, they must be working properly, and the advisory stickers must be displayed on each door of the vehicle.

Can I ask the driver to switch a security camera off?
No. The cameras must be operating at all times.  Drivers cannot switch them off.  You should not ask a driver to do so.

There are heavy penalties for people, including taxi drivers, who interfere with a taxi's security camera.

How do I know a camera recording won?t be misused?
Only people authorised by the Government are allowed to access recordings on taxi security cameras.  These are the only people with the software necessary to download images.  Taxi drivers and operators cannot access the images recorded by the cameras.

Recordings can only be downloaded in specific situations, such as where an incident has occurred that police are investigating.

There are heavy penalties for using the images in an unauthorised manner.

Can I get a child seat in a taxi?
Under the Road Rules, taxi drivers are exempt from the requirement for children aged less than seven years to be restrained in a child restraint, if there is no suitable restraint available in the taxi.  If there is no suitable restraint, the taxi driver is responsible for ensuring that the child wears a seatbelt to the best extent possible.

Taxi drivers don't have to carry child restraints in their taxi, and taxi networks don't have to supply them.  It is not possible for taxis to carry restraints at all times as there is not enough space in the taxi to carry a restraint when it isn't in use. However, many taxi networks, especially in the major cities, will have child seats available if they are booked in advance.

If you are planning on travelling in a taxi with a young child, you may like to contact your local taxi service providers to discuss your needs and then choose the provider that has arrangements that would best suit your family.

You may also use your own child restraint in a taxi.

Passenger rights and responsibilities

What are my responsibilities when travelling in a taxi or a luxury hire car?

When travelling in a taxi or luxury hire car you must:

  • wear a seatbelt at all times during the trip;
  • if you are in a taxi, pay an up-front deposit if the driver asks you to;
  • if you are in a taxi, pay the fare displayed on the meter at the end of the trip;
  • if you are in a luxury hire car, pay the agreed fare at the end of the trip, unless you made other arrangements for payment when you booked the vehicle; and
  • comply with any reasonable request made by the driver.


When travelling in a taxi or luxury hire car you must not:

  • consume alcohol or carry open containers of alcohol;
  • smoke any substance;
  • do anything to endanger the safety of the vehicle, the driver, another passenger or a person outside the vehicle;
  • threaten, harass or intimidate the driver, another passenger or a person outside the vehicle;
  • do anything to stop the driver from doing his or her job;
  • unreasonably disturb the driver, another passenger or a person outside the vehicle;
  • damage or tamper with the vehicle or anything in it, including the security camera, taximeter, radio and other taxi equipment; or
  • throw anything inside or from the vehicle.

A driver may ask you to get out of the vehicle if you do any of these things.

Can I tell the taxi driver which route to take?
Yes.  A taxi driver must travel by the route that you request, provided that it is safe and legal to do so.  If you don't specify a route, he or she must travel by the most direct route to your destination.  You must not ask a driver to do anything illegal, such as speed or run red lights.

If I have a complaint, who do I contact?
All taxis and luxury hire cars must display a phone number that passengers can call if they have a complaint about the vehicle or the driver.  This is the number to call in the first instance, unless the complaint refers to a criminal matter, in which case you should contact Tasmania Police immediately.

If the taxi is part of a dispatch service or taxi network, the contact number may be the number of the dispatch service.  In other cases the number will be the operator's number.

The operator must investigate any complaints and must inform the person that made the complaint of any action they have taken.

In some cases you might not be satisfied with what the operator has done.  If your complaint relates to customer service issues (e.g. a driver being rude, being late, not arriving or not helping with your luggage), you might choose not to use that taxi company again, or you could raise the matter again with the operator.

If your complaint is about a matter that is covered by regulations, such as:

  • overcharging;
  • taking the incorrect route;
  • being refused a hiring from a taxi rank;
  • being told you must take the first taxi on the rank, or that you must not use a WAT unless you are travelling in a wheelchair; or
  • serious inappropriate behaviour, such as harassment,

you can contact the Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources on 6233 5376 or by email dier@dier.tas.gov.au for further advice.

This number is not a general enquiry number.  The Department has no authority to investigate customer service issues, and will not deal with complaints about these matters.

What should I do if I leave something in a taxi?
You should contact the operator of the taxi you travelled in.  The operator's contact number should be displayed in the taxi.

If you don't know the operator's phone number, the taxi network that the taxi belongs to may be able to help you find your property.

The taxi operator must keep any lost property for seven days, after which they must take it to a police station.

Can a driver take my name and address?
Yes, in some circumstances.  A taxi driver may take your name and address if you wish to pay the fare at a later time.  However, the driver may also refuse the hiring if you are unable to pay the fare when you hire the taxi.

A driver may also take your name and address if you have done something, such as smoking in the vehicle, harassing the driver or damaging the vehicle.

You must provide your name and address to the driver if you are asked to do so in these circumstances.

What are a taxi driver's responsibilities?
Most of a taxi driver?s responsibilities are set by law.  Many of these are explained in this document.  They include requirements about:

  • charging fares and using the taximeter;
  • behaviour on taxi ranks;
  • not soliciting for trade;
  • taking the correct route;
  • displaying a ?not-for-hire sign? when this is required; and
  • not operating the taxi if any equipment is broken.

Other driver responsibilities, which may not be legal requirements, can be found in the taxi operator?s Driver Code of Behaviour.  Each taxi and luxury hire car operator must have a code of behaviour for their drivers.  The operator decides what he or she will include in the code.

An operator's code may include requirements for drivers to help passengers if they need assistance, and to wear particular clothing or a uniform while they are driving the taxi.  It may also include instructions on what a driver should do with any lost property left in the taxi, and outline specific circumstances (within the law) where the operator expects the driver to ask for an up-front deposit.

The legal requirements for luxury hire car drivers are requirements not to solicit for trade and to only accept pre-booked work.  However, luxury hire car operators must also have a Driver Code of Behaviour. This code would be likely to cover issues such as customer service, uniforms and handling lost property.
 

The taxi and luxury hire car industries

Taxi licences
All taxis operate under the authority of a taxi licence.

A taxi licence may be held or owned by the person who operates the taxi service (the taxi operator) or it may be owned by someone who leases the licence to a taxi operator.  In Tasmania, especially in the larger areas, the majority of licences are leased by operators from licence owners.

Licences can be purchased from the Government under an annual release program, or can be purchased from an existing licence holder.  In larger taxi areas, the cost of the licence (lease or purchase) is a major part of the operating cost of a taxi service.

There is no limit on the number of licences a person can have.

Taxi operators
The taxi operator is responsible for operating the taxi service.  He or she may drive the taxi themselves, and/or may engage 'bailee' drivers. 

All taxi operators must hold accreditation issued by the State Government.  Accreditation requires an operator to have systems in place to ensure the safe operation of the taxi service and to make sure that someone is accountable for that service.

Taxi operators are responsible for the maintenance of the vehicle and for the operating expenses of the business such as fuel, registration and insurance. 

Taxi drivers
As noted above, a person must hold an ancillary certificate before they can drive a taxi.  To get an ancillary certificate a person must show that they are a 'fit and proper' person to drive a taxi, and must pass the taxi driver training course.

An ancillary certificate to drive a taxi does not authorise a person to operate a taxi service (that is, have legal responsibility for managing a taxi business), unless he or she also holds operator accreditation.

It is an offence to drive a taxi, luxury hire car, or any other public passenger vehicle, without an ancillary certificate.  Heavy penalties apply.

Bailment
Taxi drivers who don't operate their own taxi service are usually bailee drivers. These drivers are self-employed, although they are treated as employees for worker?s compensation purposes.  Taxi drivers are small business operators and must be registered for the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

A bailment agreement allows an operator to hire his or her taxi to a bailee driver for an agreed period on agreed conditions. The bailment agreement provides for fares collected by the driver to be shared, usually on a 50/50 basis, with the operator.  The Government does not regulate these agreements.

Dispatch services
Taxi dispatch services (also known as taxi networks or radio rooms) coordinate taxis so that passengers can call a single phone number to book a taxi.  In larger areas the dispatch service may have a national ?13? phone number rather than a local number.

When a passenger phones for a taxi, the dispatch service alerts drivers to jobs, and drivers can allocate themselves to the nearest available job.

Dispatch services don't employ taxi drivers and don't have the authority to require a driver to take a particular job.  Because drivers are self-employed, they are responsible for deciding which work they will take from the dispatch service.

Operators pay a fee to the network in return for access to the booking and dispatch service and the use of the network's signs on the taxi

Taxi operators in Tasmania don't have to belong to a dispatch service.  There are a number of independent operators who don't use these services.

Luxury hire cars
Luxury hire cars must operate under the authority of a luxury hire car licence.  These licences can be bought from the Government or from someone who wants to sell their licence.  There is no limit on the number of licences available.

A luxury hire car licence must be held by the person who operates the hire car service.  Luxury hire car operators must be accredited to operate their service, in the same way as taxi operators must be accredited.

Drivers must hold an ancillary certificate, but don't have to do a formal training course.  The operator usually provides training.  Pay and conditions are agreed between the operator and the driver.

Vehicles used as luxury hire cars must meet particular vehicle standards, and they should be maintained at a very high standard

Not all limousines and stretch limousines are luxury hire cars.  Some of these vehicles operate restricted services called 'limited passenger services'.  They provide transport for special events such as weddings and school formals.  The term 'limited' is used because these vehicles are not available for general hire like taxis and luxury hire cars are.  They cannot stand on taxi ranks or be hailed, and can only be used for very limited purposes.  Operators of these services must be accredited but they don't have to have a licence to operate the service.

Where does my taxi fare go?

There is no simple answer to this question.  It depends on the ownership, management and driving arrangements of the particular taxi in which you are travelling.  There could be up to four different parties involved (directly or indirectly) in providing a taxi service:

  1. the taxi driver;
  2. the accredited operator of the taxi service;
  3. the owner of the taxi licence under which the service is provided; and
  4. the taxi company or network to which the taxi is affiliated (as indicated by the signage on the taxi).

Particularly in Hobart and Launceston, it is likely that all four parties will be involved, each of which has a claim on the farebox earnings of the taxi.  In this case, the fares initially go to the operator, who pays the driver a percentage of the income as agreed between the driver and the operator.  This is normally 50 per cent, although some operators pay different amounts.  Out of the remaining 50 per cent, the operator must pay the cost of leasing the licence to the owner of the licence, membership fees to the taxi network and all of the costs associated with operating the taxi.

In other cases, especially in the smaller taxi areas, one person may fulfil all of the roles (1) to (3).  That is, that person owns the licence, he or she is the accredited operator and he or she drives the taxi for all or some of the shifts.  In this situation, all of the fare goes to the operator.  He or she uses this money to cover the costs of operating the taxi service, including purchase costs for the taxi licence (if applicable), network membership fees (if they are a member), vehicle maintenance and repair, fuel, insurance, registration and so on.  If the operator has engaged a driver to cover some shifts, he or she pays 50 per cent of the fare collected during those shifts, or another amount as agreed, to the driver.
 

Taxi area codes

The following table shows the taxi area represented by the two or three letters on a taxi licence plate.

Prefix
Taxi Area
BW
Burnie
BWA
Burnie (wheelchair accessible)
BO
Break O Day
BI
Bruny Island
CTH
Central Highlands
CH
Circular Head
DV
Devonport
DVA
Devonport (wheelchair accessible)
DO
Dorset
FI
Flinders Island
GT
George Town
GSN
Glamorgan/Spring Bay North
GSS
Glamorgan/Spring Bay South
HB
Hobart
HBA
Hobart (wheelchair accessible)
HV
Huon Valley
HVA
Huon Valley (wheelchair accessible)
KI
King Island
LN
Launceston
LNA
Launceston (wheelchair accessible)
MV
Meander Valley
NN
New Norfolk
PE
Penguin
PT
Perth
TS
Tasman
UL
Ulverstone
WC
West Coast
WT
West Tamar