The City of Ballarat will investigate establishing a City Safe Taxi Rank in the Camp Street entertainment precinct.
The proposal has the support of the Ballarat Taxis Co-operative and would see the current rank at the Ballarat Train Station relocated to Camp Street, creating a “taxi-loop” of the city centre.
Councillor Amy Johnson called for a briefing on the idea at Wednesday’s council meeting, stating she believed the relocation was likely to better serve residents.
“In addition, I request as part of this briefing ... 24-hour public toilet amenities and the potential to locate these toilets in Alfred-Deakin Place,” she said.
It comes after she last month described the situation at the late night Lydiard Street rank, where public urination is also increasing, as “an embarrassment” and called for a briefing by council staff to address the myriad of problems at the site.
Ballarat Taxis Co-operative chairman Steven Armstrong said the co-operative was also advocating for a rank in Camp Street, which would help to reduce the pressure on the current Lydiard Street rank.
“It’s putting the taxis where the people are,” Mr Armstrong said.
“The numbers at the railway station are down.
“The one in Camp Street will be more in line with being in the central hub where the nightlife is.”
Mr Armstrong said he did not expect fallout from train station users, as the location was under utilised by both patrons and drivers.
By comparison, he said security at the Lydiard Street facility was an issue on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings when nightclub revellers congregated at the rank after drinking.
“The more you have congregating at a single rank the more risk there is of an incident taking place,” he said.
“It’s much easier for security to control a single crowd.”
Mr Armstrong said the proposal was to secure funding through the Department of Transport, with an opportunity to source security and shelter for the Camp Street site.
He said the co-operative had tried to obtain a shelter for the Lydiard Street rank but was stopped by heritage overlay issues.
Gary Wilson, the owner of Irish Murphy’s and Karova Lounge, said there was a lot of activity in Camp Street, with a number of venues in and around the area.
“With Lydiard Street it’s become a bit of a bottleneck,” he said,
“You have six, seven or eight venues sending people out and they all congregate in that line. Hopefully with that rank in Camp Street, it splits the crowds a bit.”
Mr Wilson said a second rank might not save people time if the same number of taxis were operating, but he saw the need for a Camp Street facility as more of a security and safety issue.
But he said there would need to be some alterations in Camp Street, including more lighting.
“You’re sending people out from all walks of life and expect them to queue for hours ... it splits the frustrations of standing in one big line,” he said.