Minister to make taxi fares fair

QUEENSLAND Transport Minister Rachel Nolan yesterday said a crackdown on taxis would include investigations into reports a cab driver slugged an overweight passenger an extra fee for their size.

The Queensland Times yesterday revealed the claims from an experienced Ipswich cab driver, who said he was outraged to hear a foreign taxi driver had charged a female passenger extra for being overweight.

Ms Nolan said the allegations were “completely unacceptable”.

“The reason that cabs have a meter is so that everybody understands what is the appropriate fare, and just in the past month we've been running quite a major compliance hit to ensure that at any given time the taxi is running the right rate through the meter,” Ms Nolan said.

“This is very actively being looked at right now and I'm specifically going to look at those issues.”

Other incidents reported by the driver, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, included passengers being forced to pay a $10 surcharge on public holidays and charged for air-conditioning and use of a GPS system.

The allegations came a day after Ms Nolan announced strict new driving standards for prospective taxi drivers.

From January 1 next year, cab drivers will have to be at least 20-years-old and have driven on the nation's roads using an Australian licence before a “taxi driver authorisation” will be issued.

Currently prospective cabbies are meant to have three years of driving experience, but Ms Nolan said drivers from other countries could begin driving much younger than in Australia and abide by vastly different road rules.

“It is important to set the same standard for everybody,” Ms Nolan said. “At present you can get through the competency test and go for your taxi driver authorisation with that quite different experience.”

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