The OPAL card for taxis?

Most Sydney taxi users are fed up with the level of service from established taxi networks.

“Sometimes I wait three or four hours for a cab to turn up”, a young Burwood lady told me.

AAGH! Three or four HOURS???! What kind of service is this?

In truth, there’s rarely such a thing as service in the taxi industry nowadays, People often book a taxi only to find that it never turns up. When people go to a cab rank to get into a taxi, they’re often asked where they would like to go. If the job happens to be “only” a local job they are often (and illegally) refused service.

Meanwhile, the cab ranks are crowded with taxis, their drivers passively waiting for that “ideal” job that somehow never turns up.

Customers tired of poor taxi service are now turning in droves to booking apps, such as Uber and goCatch. Both of these are rated highly by both customers and drivers. Of the two, maybe Uber has the more efficient algorithm, in that the job is automatically dispatched to the nearest available taxi. On the other hand, goCatch is more hands-on, and some say more user-friendly.

However, there is a real “apps war” going on just now. Drivers are being squeezed by lower commissions, and at the same tme customers are being charged higher fees,

So what is the answer? Maybe extend the successful Opal card to taxis. With an Opal terminal in each cab, riders could just “tap on, tap off”. Taxi bookings made by phone or via an app could be linked to the customer’s Opal card, with say a $10 booklng deposit that would be forfeited in the case of a “no show”. but otherwse credited towards the final fare. All in all, cheaper. more secure and more efficient.