Taxi driver Rick Coop with John Bowditch, who relies on the subsidy to afford transport to and from work.
Taxi driver Rick Coop with John Bowditch, who relies on the subsidy to afford transport to and from work. Renee Pilcher

Subsidy to stay after govt scraps planned taxi scheme cuts

GYMPIE'S physically, visually and intellectually disabled residents, who rely on taxis to get around, will be relieved to hear the State Government has scrapped its plan to cut back the Taxi Subsidy Scheme.

Drivers for Gympie Golden City Cabs had vowed to stand by their most vulnerable customers if the taxi rebate was capped at $400 a year.

They were fully prepared to continue providing half-price fares.

As one taxi driver explained, the capping of the subsidy would mean clients could only afford one return trip once a week for just 40 weeks in the year.

"TSS clients are just about 50% of our passengers," driver Rick Coop said.

One of his regular passengers is Gympie identity John Bowditch, who gets picked up from home and taken to work at Red Cross Business Services on Brisbane Rd about three times a week.

"John's taxi fares to get to and from work would take up a significant portion of his wage without the taxi subsidy," Mr Coop said.

"Travelling to and from work may not be affordable and would leave some of these guys without the ability to work and keep their independence."

TSS clients use taxis to get to and from work, school and medical facilities, Gympie Golden City Cabs managing director Jackie Fallon said.

She said the decision to scrap the plans to cap the subsidy was great news for the Gympie community.

"It's a win but it's not over yet," she said.

"The government are still reviewing the scheme, but it needs to remain the way it is.

"TSS clients need personalised care, not public transport. Our taxi drivers collect them from their door and walk them back."

She said the company's motivation for bringing the issue to the attention of the public was to support the city's disabled community.