It takes just a drop of poison to make a whole glass of milk lethal. There are fewer destinations around the world where a traveller can narrate consistently pleasant experience with maxi taxis. No, that does not mean that all those who drive a maxi taxi for a living are bad people. But, a small percentage of them in nearly every city around the globe has done so much harm to the industry that the industry as a whole failed miserably in sustaining or enhancing user experience.
Technology gets red carpet welcome from harried customers
Traditionally maxi taxi services were focused on travellers and therefore most customers represented floating population. But, with the proliferation of smartphones and perhaps smarter businesses like Uber and Lyft snatching the opportunity, the taxi services offered by these enterprises quickly caught up with the users on a global scale. In Melbourne and elsewhere the traditional taxi industry was possibly caught unawares. Some even imagined that Uber and similar services were just a passing cloud, and traditional taxis will retain their predominance in the respective markets. Sadly for the traditional maxi taxi operators, the opposite is true, and this new generation taxi hailing service is only growing their roots deeper into the markets they operate.
Where does that place the Melbourne taxi industry?
Most traditional maxi taxis are owner operated which means the individuals have invested the significant amount of money not just in acquiring their own cabs, but also various taxes and duties paid to the statutory bodies. The fare structure offered by traditional taxis is also determined by government agencies factoring in these duties and taxes alongside other operating expenses. In sharp contrast, services like Lyft and Uber are taxi aggregators or merely facilitators and do not own their vehicles. Further, they also enjoy advantages of economies of scale with more satisfied customers being added every single day. This leaves individuals owning and operating traditional taxis at a huge disadvantage because of the shift in customer preferences.
What the future beholds
The proliferation of smartphones and advancement in technology are primarily behind services like Uber. When millions of people are ready to embrace such technologies, it would be difficult for legendary players to resist the change. But, respective governments can step in with some measures like reduced taxes and other levies on traditional taxis to minimise the impact. The case of typewriter versus computers is perhaps an excellent example of advanced technologies will disrupt some of the traditional occupations. Manual typewriters can hardly be found in any of the major metros around the globe. Even the desktops are fading in popularity, and a series of hand held devices would occupy the top spots in the days to come.
Embrace technology and improve customer experience
One way traditional taxis in Melbourne can benefit from the winds of change is to embrace technology and improve customer experience. The government is also seized of the difficulties faced by traditional taxi operators in Melbourne, and some of the measures envisaged should bring succour to the troubled industry.