Push to improve Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme will continue

Jan Barham, Greens MP and spokesperson for Disability Services, today issued a renewed call for the NSW Government to increase funding for the Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme.

“The Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme (TTSS) assists people with disabilities with the cost of taxi fares, which is essential in many regional and suburban areas where public transport isn’t accessible. It covers half of the taxi fare but this is capped at $30 per trip, which means that the assistance cuts out as soon as a fare goes over $60,” Ms Barham said.

“The maximum subsidy hasn’t changed since 1999, so it hasn’t kept pace with 14 years of rising taxi fares. Back in 2010 a Parliamentary inquiry into the taxi industry recommended increasing the cap to $50, and then having it independently reviewed each year.

“But last Tuesday’s Budget ignored the issue, despite strong lobbying from the disability sector and a motion I had put before the parliament in March.”

“This isn’t a big-ticket item in the Budget. The scheme cost $27.4 million for the current financial year and they’ve only allowed an extra $2 million for 2013/14.

“A little extra from the state budget could go a long way in helping people with disabilities to get on with their daily lives. The NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS) estimated that increasing the cap to $50 would only need another $9 million added to the scheme.”

Ms Barham confirmed she would renew her call for Parliament to support enhancing the scheme.

“My motion is still on the books and I will bring it up again in our last sitting week before Parliament rises for the winter. We’ve fallen way behind some other states in taxi fare assistance, and this is something the Government should find the funding to address.”

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0407 065 061

BACKGROUND

Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme expenditure:
2012/13 revised: $27.4 million
2013/14 forecast: $29.4 million
Source: NCOSS Budget Briefing

Additional cost of increasing maximum subsidy to $50 per trip:
Estimated $9 million annually (assumes 10% of trips exceed the current cap)
Source: NCOSS Pre-Budget Submission

Jan Barham motion; notice given 26 March 2013:

1. That this House notes that the Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme’s (TTSS) current maximum subsidy level of $30 has been in place since 1999, meaning that it has gone 14 years without an increase.
2. That this House acknowledges that the 2010 Select Committee Inquiry into the NSW Taxi Industry reported:
(a) Recommendation 35: ‘That NSW Transport and Infrastructure increase the value of the subsidy provided by the Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme to half the total fare, up to a maximum value of $50.00 per fare.’ A $20 increase on the current subsidy, and
(b) Recommendation 36: ‘That the Premier request the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal to consider the value of the subsidy provided under the Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme as part of its annual review of taxi fares.’
3. That this House notes the Government responses at the time to the above recommendations were:
(a) Recommendation 35: ‘Transport NSW will review and evaluate the current Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme subsidy cap,’ and
(b) Recommendation 36: ‘Transport NSW will review and evaluate options for the future adjustment of the Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme subsidy cap.’
4. That this House also acknowledges Victoria’s Multi Purpose Taxi Program’s 2011-12 budget of $51 million is almost double New South Wales’ TTSS 2011-12 budget of $26 million.
5. That this House notes with concern that a recent survey of TTSS users by the Northern Rivers Social Development Council and supported by the Physical Disability Council of NSW, NCOSS, and Spinal Cord Injuries Australia showed that:
(a) 32% of respondents said that taxis were their only mode of transport,
(b) 54.7% of respondents received the Disability Support Pension, 15.1% were in part-time employment and 12.3% were in full-time employment, and
(c) of those people receiving the Disability Support Pension, almost half (47.5%) spent between 11 and 30% of their income on taxis, and that this percentage was higher for those in part-time employment (50%) and slightly lower for those in full-time employment (35.7%).
6. That this House notes that:
(a) Victoria’s Multi Purpose Taxi Program’s 2011-12 budget of $51 million is almost double NSW’s TTSS 2011-12 budget of $26 million,
(b) in 2008, Victoria increased its Multipurpose Taxi Program subsidy from $30 to $60, an amount that it is double the current New South Wales subsidy, and
(c) NCOSS’s Pre-Budget Submission recommends the NSW Government ‘Review the Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme to ensure affordable access for participants, and increase the subsidy cap from $30 to $50.’
7. That this House acknowledges:
(a) the $30 TTSS subsidy is inadequate today and has not kept pace with New South Wales’ rising costs of living, and
(b) the subsidy does not meet the needs of many people with a disability travelling throughout major metropolitan and regional on our taxi networks.
8. That this House calls on the Government to increase the Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme.