Friday, June 06, 2008
Ilac center don't you just hate malls.
The wedding car, its a replica.
This is not from me, It explains what kind of thing will happen and is indeed happening everywhere since the taxi industry has become a free for all.
When the system is not policed properly.
I don't think I could have discribed this as well as she did.
June 6, 2008
Nothing fare about this taxi ride from hell
THE problem with being a journalist is when you’re caught up in your own dramas it’s hard not to see life in headlines.
This week it was a "Sydney woman kidnapped by irate taxi driver" story, by Clare Masters.
One minute I’m hailing a cab in the city, the next I’m in a back seat of a taxi under physical attack by the driver.
In a fight that can probably trace its origins back to horse-and buggy days I wanted to go somewhere and the driver didn’t want to take me.
Arguing with taxi drivers is nothing new if you are used to flagging Sydney cabbies but this wasn’t your average lively discussion - this came close to being a knock down, ear-steaming, eye-gouging, fist-flourishing battle that left me shaking, furious and abandoned on the side of the road.
Every Sydneysider who has stood in the rain, eyes frantically searching the traffic for the jackpot empty taxi knows that great sense of relief when one finally rolls up.
Wednesday night was Sydney at her worst.
It was cold, rainy and my boyfriend and I were already late for dinner when the great cab mirage appeared in the traffic.
A taxi with his light on and his backseat empty pulled up at a set of traffic lights near Macquarie Street.
I tapped on the driver’s window and my boyfriend and I jumped in the back seat and asked to go to Kings Cross.
"No, I am not going to Kings Cross," the driver said firmly.
"Come on mate, you had your light on and we’re in the cab now," I say, equally as firmly in a voice I normally reserve for my cat, or colleague Joe Hildebrand.
He said nothing and, thinking the old argument was over, my boyfriend and I started chatting.
Moments later we notice the driver is not actually going in the right direction.
Me: "Hey mate you have to go left to get to the Cross."
Him: "No I am not going to Kings Cross."
Instead of turning left to the Cross he is relentlessly heading to Western Sydney with absolutely no intention of taking us where we want to go.
Him: "You want to stay in the cab, you’re going to Parramatta."
Me: (mystified) "But we want to go to Kings Cross."
Him: "No, I am not going to Kings Cross, I am going to Parramatta."
My boyfriend, obviously thinking I have allowed what should be a simple transaction only to get out of hand, steps in.
"Mate - you had your light on that means you are available and you need to take us where we want to go," he says.
Him: "No I am not going to Kings Cross."
Clearly we were going around in circles. Actually, no, we’re going to Parramatta, and we’re about to go over the Anzac Bridge.
Now the driver is screaming at us both and telling us he is going to Parramatta whether we like it or not. I’m yelling back and I’m telling him we’re making a complaint and I’m pulling out my notebook to write his number.
The driver whips around, grabs my notebook out of my hand and pulls out a move I haven’t seen in about 20 years and back then it was my mother at the end of a wooden spoon.
He raises his hand to hit me.
My heart is pounding and my normally mild-mannered boyfriend is out of control with anger and leaps out of his seat and reaches over to get to the driver.
He is furiously shouting at the driver not to touch me.
I am yelling at the driver while holding back my boyfriend before we end up on an assault charge.
We’re idling in the middle of the road howling at each other while the wet weather traffic streams around us.
Conveniently, the driver has no identification hanging in its usual place near the rearview mirror but I spy his licence plate number which I commit to memory.
Under physical attack and in shock, and with the car stopped we get out before we end up on the wrong side of Sydney.
I call the taxi company. But no surprises there. Because I don’t have the driver’s name and he is not registered they offer nothing.
We end up catching a train to Kings Cross in record time and there is a stiff drink at the end of the journey to ease our pain.
Yes, driving around Sydney in the rain would be an incredibly stressful job, but it’s a job you choose to do, taxi drivers.
Not only is there no excuse for refusing a valid fare, but there is never, ever any excuse for violence.
The Victorian Government just yesterday released a report calling for an overhaul of their taxi system looking at improved driver training with a focus on customer service and people skills and also regular report cards on performance of the taxi industry released twice a year.
In New South Wales the taxi industry is the largest in the country with nearly 6000 cabs and more than 22,000 drivers, but it is an industry badly regulated and ill-managed.
Not surprisingly, the NSW taxi industry was recently voted the worst in the country.
The industry’s peak body for transport and tourism, the Tourism and Transport Forum, is calling for similar action to be taken in NSW and for a national review.
If my Wednesday night experience is anything to go by, it is well overdue.