I don’t want to sound like I’m picking on Canberra at all, but I just happen to be spending a bit of time there in recent months, so it tends to be a big source of material.
This time it is back to cabs/taxis. Standing at the airport taxi rant, I’m asked if I mind someone else sharing.
Official cab rant guy: Would you mind sharing with someone else?
RBF: Not at all. So long as they get out at the same place I do.
I had an amusing, if not frustrating situation about 15 years ago when getting a cab back from Sydney airport. I was in the cab, and had some woman pushed in beside me by the official cab rank guy. I didn’t know the law, and she said she’d split the $50 fare, so who was I to complain? 10pm at night after a week away, I was just happy to get home.
That was of course until the cabby decided that she’d be the best to drop off first, then when we pulled into her street it must have have been about ten suburbs away from where I lived, and then the damn cabby gets pulled over by the police half way to my place, and I’m told that the cab was unregistered and wasn’t going anywhere. Another cab and another fare later, and I swore never to share a cab again.
Anyway, back to Canberra airport earlier this week. Although the company pays, I try to do my part to ease the load. 50% of the fare I figured would be a good saving, even though I’d have a stranger to deal with for the subsequent 15 minute cab ride.
Then as we get close to our stop, the following exchange happens:
Cabby: So are you both familiar with the new taxi sharing rules?
RBF: Err, no.
Silent stranger: No.
Cabby: Between 8am and 10am, we have ten times more passengers than taxis, so we have a new system to help people who find it hard to get a cab.
RBF: Uhuh. [ pause ] And what’s that then?
Cabby: Well, we now have a new rate, rate 3, the sharing rate. Rate 3 is 70% of the standard rate, so the trip costs less, but you both pay the amount on the meter. That way I get more, you pay less, and everyone is happy.
RBF: Happy that our discount has gone from 50% to 30% off the standard rate?
Cabby: No, you only end up paying 70% of the standard fare. It’s all up there on the sticker. [ he points to yet another sticker on the windscreen which seemly explains the cab share process ]
RBF: So let me get this straight, for the privilege of sharing a cab with a complete stranger, arguably the reason why I would probably have caught a bus instead if it didn’t frustrate me too much, I can pay an additional 40% more than I would have had I used the old sharing system, and not had the added emotional weight of knowing that you’re also getting 40% more out of the ride than you would for a single passenger. Sounds like a bloody rip off to me, as me and Mr. silent here are now in a lose lose situation.
Cabby: Are you from Sydney?
Anyway, silent stranger guy didn’t get out at the same place as I did, so the official cab rank guy is now the official cab rank bastard guy, and that’s probably the last cab I’ll share for a while.