'I can't retire because of Uber' - taxi driver

Some taxi drivers are concerned about Uber's arrival next month but Wollongong Radio Cabs is hopeful the rideshare company won't have a major effect. Picture: Robert Peet

Some taxi drivers are concerned about Uber's arrival next month but Wollongong Radio Cabs is hopeful the rideshare company won't have a major effect. Picture: Robert Peet

Taxi driver Milan Marijan reckons Uber has cost him his chance to retire.

The 71-year-old driver is concerned that the arrival of Uber on March 16 will make it impossible for him to sell his taxi and retire.

“I work hard for this taxi,” Mr Marijan said.

“I thought it’s my retirement when the time comes - I could sell it and I retire. But now I can’t sell it so I’m forced to work. I can’t sell it now because of Uber.

“Why buy the cab when you have a normal car and you can work, you can do the same job I do?”

Mr Marijan is also unhappy that UberX drivers – who use their private vehicles – have to pay far less for insurance.

“Uber pay the green slip for a normal car, we pay about $10,000 for green slip,” he said.

“You reckon that is fair when these people are coming in and doing the same job?

“I’m happy if they come and pay what we pay and if they have all the safety and security that we have - fair enough.

“Competition is always good. But not this way – these people they come from nowhere and take our jobs, take our business.”

NSW Taxi Council CEO Roy Wakelin-King confirmed that taxis pay substantially more for CTP than UberX drivers – in excess of $9000 compared to just $600.

Mr Wakelin-King said this was a “manifestly unfair” situation.

“If the playing field is leveled out as it should be – we’re not asking for any special advantage – then it means all parties can compete in a fair manner,” Mr Wakelin-King said.

“Then it comes down to who can provide the best possible service, the most reliable service.”

NSW Finance Minister Victor Dominello said the government was “creating a more level playing field” and looking at measures that could reduce annual premiums for taxi owners by as much as 40 per cent.

Wollongong Radio Cabs general manager John Megas took heart from what happened when UberX started in Newcastle – drivers focused on busy Friday and Saturday nights.

“The experience in Newcastle has been that the local taxi co-op has not been affected by the introduction of Uber as the public choose a reliable and secure service that is available always, not just during peak periods,” Mr Megas said.

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