Dateline December 2020 Melbourne, Australia
In the lead up to Christmas 2020 the streets are slowly coming back to normal, but society has changed from where it was just months ago, 12 months ago. There are fewer people around as we all got used to the idea of tele-working. There are fewer vehicles on the road and more green spaces.
As a whole, society appears to be a nicer place, more caring for everyone. There are less people out and about, and therefore there are less vehicles on the road, Those who are working in the city are often heard to remark at the professionalism of the taxi networks - the cars are immaculate and the drivers courteous and patient.
Our challenge now in April is to ensure that we survive, and even thrive, during this crisis. It is pleasing to see how the Booking Service Providers are evolving, and actively looking to find new avenues for work. We have to break the paradigm that all we transport is passengers. We have a network of professional drivers with vehicles, and they know our cities intimately - we can carry anything - anywhere - for anyone!
In my opinion, we also have to break the value paradigm - it is no longer sufficient for our industry to be seen as the "least worse" mode of transportation at the lowest cost to the consumer.
We provide a top level service for our clientele which is way beyond just taking them from A to B. We all deserve to be recognised for what we provide and to be paid accordingly. As well, we need to continue pushing to support our drivers and see how we can get the Government to give support also.
Transport Alliance Australia, along with Rod Barton MP and the entire Transport Matters Party team, are actively advocating that the Government support for small business equally applies to those in our industry, particularly the bailee drivers.
We are aware that these are difficult and challenging times; but together we will get through this challenge. Please look after yourselves.
CPV Industry Update
The regulator - Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria (CPVV) is holding weekly video meetings and TAA representatives have joined other industry stakeholders at these on-line conferences.
It is via these video meetings that we are able to learn what CPVV is actively doing to assist industry stakeholders during the COVID-19 crisis, and also receive answers to some questions that need clarification.
Essential services at this stage are Public Transport (including CPVs), Vehicle Testers and Driving Instructors and therefore, as at the time of writing, are exempt from passenger number restrictions. But drivers should always apply safety principles when transporting their passengers.
It is totally up to the driver whether he/she feels comfortable taking passengers - if not, then the driver is to politely excuse him/ herself from accepting the fare and suggest another mode of transport. For example, one of the prospective passengers appears unwell, the driver can suggest that they get a patient transfer vehicle to take them to their destination.
CPVV is integrally involved in the COVID-19 Taskforce, and it requests the public to report to it any driver cases of COVID-19. CPVV will then remove these drivers from work until medically cleared.
CPVV has established a supply arrangement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for BSPs. This is a buyback program - meaning the product is not free of charge. You can request supply of PPE product and there will be a fee applicable to this product. Updates will be posted on the CPVV website under the COVID-19 link.
Andre Baruch's column first appeared in Drive A2B Magazine April 2020