The State Government has approved 10 new ride-share licences in Albany ahead of the July 1 taxi overhaul and has moved to allay fears of disappearing regional services.
Transport Minister Rita Saffioti’s office confirmed the 10 licences had been approved, which would allow them to operate after July 1.
Another application is being reviewed.
That figure represents at least half the number of taxis operating around Albany.
Following last week’s budget announcement of a $10,000 lifeline for each regional taxi plate lessee, Ms Saffioti said the State was working to ensure the on-demand system would not leave periods with no available drivers.
“We’re working with the local industries. We’ve engaged the Department of Transport regional offices,” she said.
“We’re having a lot of discussions to make sure we can deliver all the services that are needed — and we’ll continue to make that a focus.”
The $3.4 million Regional Taxi Transition Support Package would also waive fees for taxi operators applying for an on-demand booking service authorisation, as well as the passenger transport vehicle authorisation fee for three years.
Existing regional taxi licence holders will be eligible for a $10,000 payment per licence — up to $100,000 — and an existing offer of $500 to country taxi operators to pay for new mandatory in-car security cameras remains.
Albany City Cabs owner Tim O’Donnell had previously warned the changes could result in drivers refusing low or no-profit trips.
The sole taxi operators in Denmark and Katanning have shut down in recent weeks, citing the upcoming transport reforms.
Mr O’Donnell said the support package promised would not be enough for country taxi drivers to survive under the new reform.
“It wont save the regional taxi industry. It’s not enough compensation for our investment in the first place,” he said
Ms Saffioti said the support package came in response to concerns raised by taxi operators about how the changes would affect operations.
“We have made a decision to provide (operators) with further assistance which will result in monetary savings and reduce administration and reporting requirements,” she said.
“Country taxis play an important role in our regions and this package will assist the industry while it adjusts to a more open market so it can continue to be a viable and competitive option for the people of WA.”
The State said reducing the limitations imposed on regional taxi operators, such as area of operation and a requirement to have cars available at all hours, would also benefit drivers.