Good news for late-night gig-goers in the city looking for additional transport options for that crucial ride home, with recent changes looking to help extend taxi services in both Melbourne and Sydney to invigorate nightlife.

The Herald Sun Online reports that Melbourne City Council has proposed a new scheme that will introduce cut-price taxi fares for travellers from the CBD to the outer services. The City of Melbourne and the Victorian Taxi Association have teamed up to promote the new initiative to make longer fares more affordable. Groups of twelve or more riding in maxi cabs can now enjoy a flat fare of $30 to be dropped to their door in those late post-gig hours.

“This is an innovative and very creative way of using the existing taxi fleet to get more young people home late at night,” said Lord Mayor Robert Doyle of the new cab initiative, adding that “the biggest barrier to travel late at night is, one, availability of taxis and, two, if you’re going the long way, the cost of taxis.”

David Samuel, a spokesperson for the Victorian Taxi Association, supported the scheme and hoped that it would be in place before the end of the year. “Melburnians will benefit under the plan and so will the taxi industry,” said Samuel, “it would be great to see it rolled out before big events like the Spring Carnival and Christmas period.”

The innovative new service is essentially a win-win situation for late-night transport in which drivers get a decent fare, while gig-goers get more, cheaper options for travel.

Meanwhile, according to the  Sydney Morning Heraldthe NSW State Government is altering taxi licenses to make the city’s late-night transport more efficient by introducing  changeovers before 2am and 2pm to try to break the bottlenecks typically occurring during the peak hours of 3am and 3pm.

The new licenses address current issues identified by a Sydney council report – The ‘Future Directions of Sydney at Night – Strategy and Action Plan’  – concerning a lack of transport options once trains stopped running, chiefly between 2am and 4am in popular late-night destinations like Kings Cross, George Street and the Rocks.

Suzie Matthews, Sydney city manager of late night economoy and city safety, says that the additional taxi licenses would help meet public demand for additional late-night transport. “Everyone told us please increase the supply of taxis,” says Matthews, “It’s pretty hard to get home.” A problem identified after public consultation, “the trains are dropping out at a time when you’ve got big masses of people moving through the area,” she said.

Additionally, a trial for a new pre-paid fares system for travel after midnight has been advocated following the same Sydney City Council report, with a trial already under way in the NSW central coast.

Designed to increase the supply of taxis in the hours between midnight and 5am, including additional fleets of maxi taxis, the pre-paid scheme would be implemented state-wide once the results of the trial had been assessed in the coming months.

Like Melbourne, this is clearly a positive for those attendees of the events that wrap up in the wee hours of the morning, but Michael Jools, president of the Taxi Drivers Association is sceptical about the program. “There are still problems with pre-paid fares in Melbourne,” noted Jools. “What we really want is ID up front,” he said, addressing concerns about taxi driver safety. Jools recommended the use of technology that could scan customer’s credit cards without charging them, before embarking on a fare.

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