Wollongong taxi drivers hit back over intimidation claims

Several Wollongong taxi drivers have used social media to respond to allegations of bullying and intimidation of ride share drivers. Picture: Robert Peet
Several Wollongong taxi drivers have used social media to respond to allegations of bullying and intimidation of ride share drivers. Picture: Robert Peet

Several Wollongong taxi drivers have hit back over claims of bullying and intimidation of ride share drivers.

In Thursday’s Mercury, an Uber driver made allegations that two taxi drivers confronted him in the car park of the Towradgi Beach Hotel and told him he had no right to be there.

“It was certainly harassment and it was certainly intimidating,” said the driver, who reported the altercation to Uber and the police.

Simon Robinson, director of ride share company Go Buggy – which operated in Wollongong for a short time last year – had a similar story.

Mr Robinson said cabbies had taken photos of his drivers and cars, and even followed a female driver on a job.

“Down there I think they deserve everything they get,” Mr Robinson said.

“Their behaviour has been despicable.”

The Mercury had contacted both Wollongong Radio Cabs and the NSW Taxi Council for comment on the story.

The vast majority of cabbies are decent, hardworking people.

Peter Coleman

When the story was posted on the Mercury’s Facebook page, several men, who identified themselves as Wollongong taxi drivers leapt to the defence of their industry.

One driver, Peter Coleman, said he was at Towradgi Beach Hotel on the night the Uber driver claimed to have been intimidated.

“The Uber driver wasn't waiting for a pre-booked customer,” Mr Coleman wrote.

“He wasn't harassed. A taxi driver simply explained the law.

“Ride sharing cars cannot sit outside venues and pick up randomly.

“They must be pre-booked. This particular gentleman drove off empty after the ‘confrontation’.”

The legislation states ride share drivers can only pick up a passenger who has made a booking.

However, the Uber driver claimed he did have a booking but they did not show up.

Mr Coleman said he could accept ride share services operating as long as they played by the rules.

He listed the services provided by taxi drivers in the Illawarra – taking special needs children to and from school, carrying senior citizens’ groceries to the door and delivering urgent blood specimens to the hospital.

Mr Coleman did admit there were some “bad apples” in the Wollongong taxi industry but said “the vast majority of cabbies are decent, hard-working people”.