Ballarat’s peak taxi fare hours will be extended on Fridays and Saturdays following a decision from the Essential Service Commission.
The ESC’s final review into fares in metropolitan and regional areas recommended that peak hours and fares will be enforced from 7pm-6am on Fridays and Saturdays – as opposed to the current peak of 12am to 6am that exists for all days.
Effectively, the decision means that the maximum charge for a late night fee, which remains capped at $3.40, can now be charged from 7pm.
The determination is effective from July 1.
Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo taxis will also now have the option of applying a surcharge of up to $4.20 from 7pm on the evenings before public holidays, instead of 12am.
The maximum charge for a holiday rate will remain capped at $4.20.
However, the Commission has decided to leave maximum fares for metropolitan taxis unchanged.
The review emphasised the changing nature of the commercial passenger vehicle services market.
“The market has been changing enormously since we last reviewed taxi fares in 2014,” Commission Chair Dr Ron Ben-David said.
The Commission stressed that the fares it sets are maximum fares and taxi service providers have the option of charging below the maximum allowable rates.
“These are maximum fares, so it shouldn’t be assumed that they will automatically apply. We expect that taxi service providers in Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo will think about how they can use this extra flexibility in fares to best service consumers”, Dr David said.
Ballarat Taxis Co-Operative chair Stephen Armstrong confirmed local taxis will charge the maximum of $3.40 from 7pm on Fridays and Saturdays, but said he would have preferred a minimal price increase to day services.
"We were looking for a small increase across the board as opposed to increasing late night fees," he said.
"We thought a very small increase to extra cents-per-kilometre rate would have been better.
Mr Armstrong also said that a price notification system should be adopted in Ballarat in the long-term.
"Our argument all the way is that we should be in control of our pricing," he said.
"So we can be a bit more flexible and competitive. That's where we would like to head in the future."
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