ELIZABETH Jones has been driving taxis for nearly 30 years.
It is her livelihood.
But she fears proposed changes to the taxi industry will ruin her way of life and potentially even leave her bankrupt.
Professor Alan Fels last month released a report into the taxi industry after a 14-month investigation, pushing for a swag of changes to the industry in a list of 145 recommendations.
Among the most drastic proposals was a vast overhaul of the licensing system, whereby the cost of a taxi licence in Ballarat would be cut back from about $400,000 to about $12,000 a year.
The proposals have been widely criticised by Melbourne and regional taxi operators, including Ballarat Taxis chairman Stephen Armstrong.
For Mrs Jones, who first bought her taxi licence in 1983 with her late husband Ken, said her future was extremely bleak if the proposals went ahead.
“When we bought the licence we took a massive risk. It was the equivalent of buying a new home at the time,” she said.
“Now if they change the rules and make licences worth nothing, that is 30 years of work gone.”
The vast majority of Ballarat’s taxi drivers have foregone any superannuation and benefits they would receive in other jobs by becoming drivers, with the eventual plan of selling off their taxi licence for retirement money.
Now, with little money to be made from selling their licences should the proposal be approved, taxi operators feel they will be severely short-changed.
“I’ll never be able to retire,” said Mrs Jones.
“I’m sure the politicians wouldn’t like to lose their superannuation at the stroke of a pen.”
The proposed changes have been designed to increase the number of taxis that operate at one time, particularly in Melbourne.
But as Ballarat Taxis chairman Stephen Armstrong says, the city does not need any more taxis.
He said aside from the early hours on Sunday mornings, Ballarat had plenty of taxis and any more would hurt both drivers and customers.
Submissions to the inquiry are open until July 13, before the final decision in September.