Six taxi drivers recognised as providing excellent service to the public represent the future face of the taxi industry in Western Australia, Transport Minister Eric Charlton said today.
Mr Charlton was presenting quarterly Golden Wheel quality service awards to William Allen of Byford, Neil Cook of Mullalloo, George Dowling of Como, John Johnson of Dianella, Dianne McGarry of Wanneroo and Wei Xaun Lai of South Perth.
The Minister said a number of initiatives would be introduced into the taxi industry in the next few months.
"We are witnessing a revolution in the provision of taxi services which is leading to improved safety and service for customers," he said.
"Shortly the first graduates will qualify from the 12-month taxi driver training program introduced last year.
"The course places a greater focus on industry entry standards with drivers being assessed for their on-road skills after three months and again at 12 months before receiving their full taxi drivers' accreditation.
"The taxi industry and the Government have responded to community concern about personal safety with measures that are already producing positive results.
"The introduction last year of security cameras in all taxis has resulted in the number of assaults on taxi drivers dropping month by month. The cameras are a major deterrent and produce quality images that identify those who choose to break the law.
"Perth is the only capital city in the world that has cameras installed in all taxis.
"I will shortly be introducing legislation in State Parliament dealing with fare evasion which will become an offence under the Taxi Act."
The chairman of the Taxi Industry Board, Howard Croxon, said safety would be further improved when the board finalised its Code of Practice.
"The code will be introduced within the next few months and will provide safety guidelines for all drivers," Mr Croxon said.
"In addition, on July 1, age limits on vehicles are being introduced to boost the safety and comfort of passengers. Taxis will have to be replaced after eight years and the industry has had 18 months to prepare for this change."
Mr Charlton said the Taxi Industry Board and all members of the industry should be congratulated on their on-going response to community concerns.
"The continual program of reform is leading to an industry which meets the highest standards of safety, convenience, comfort and quality service," Mr Charlton said.
Media contact: Doug Cunningham (08) 9321 7333