While traditional taxi drivers across the globe have drawn flak for bad behaviour, no one appears to be keen on highlighting good conduct by the same community. Safety of women passengers, particularly in the night while riding a taxi has always remained a concern. Does this mean that taxi drivers in every metropolitan city around the globe are a bunch of rogues? That is a most unlikely scenario. Bad elements in society are not exclusive to the taxi drivers’ profession. Being so, is it right to single out taxi drivers for a different treatment. Does the community react with the same venom when a doctor, police officer or a school teacher is charged with bad behaviour? How often has the problem been studied in-depth and what kind of corrective action has been initiated by the respective governments to stem the rot.
We need to put these questions in perspective while debating the safety of women passengers travelling at night in Melbourne or elsewhere and reaching a conclusion that one type of service scores over the other.
Only regular Melbourne taxis have security camera inside the vehicle
A distinct advantage, which women passenger travelling in the night and using a regular taxi in Melbourne, is that the government regulates these taxis. They are also mandated to have a safety camera system on board. These cameras do work as a huge deterrent when it comes to potential violence against women passengers. Passengers have nothing to worry since the camera does not record audio within the taxi. The external door of every taxi fitted with this camera will carry a sticker confirming the presence of the camera, and the dashboard will also have the same sticker. Passengers will also have the ability to ensure that the camera is indeed on and working. This is one facility that Uber or other services are not offering, as yet.
Melbourne taxis have hardwired GPS
In addition to the camera, Melbourne taxis also have a couple of GPS devices hardwired into the system. In the App-based taxi hailing services, the GPS device (often one) is portable or integrated into the smartphone of the driver.
Put the customers in focus
Meantime, Lyft and Uber are perhaps only the beginning, and in the global arena, more service providers have already established themselves. Therefore, it could be only wishful thinking that these services will wilt under pressure. Conversely, their financial strength and multinational character must be factored in to evolve counter strategies to win back customers through enhanced quality of services. Stray incidents happening in the traditional taxi space should not be blown out of proportion inflicting further damage to an already dented reputation. At the end of the day, passengers are bound to choose cheaper and more comfortable services and government action can hardly arrest such a trend.
Social media can help
Traditional taxis can also use social media to highlight their hardships and views about why they don’t deserve all the flak they are receiving now. The change will result from how the promises are delivered and not merely pointing the finger at the competitors. Meantime, the government on its part is expected to work towards providing a more level playing field for the traditional taxis.