The taxi industry throughout Australia is an integral part of the public passenger transport system. It comprises in excess of 12,000 licensed vehicles and conveys an estimated 350 million passengers annually. In Queensland, it is estimated that approximately 9,000 people are employed within the industry. However, taxis have been a long forgotten part of transport planning.
There is a paucity of official data on the contribution of the taxi industry to the national economy. The objectives of Queensland regulations governing the industry have changed little since their inception in 1905. In more recent times, the industry has attracted considerable comment due to the rapid increase in the value of goodwill of taxi licences and the significant capital gain made by licensees who have exited the industry.
This paper examines participation in the Queensland taxi industry from the small business perspective. It compares the skills required by other small businesspersons with those required by the taxi owner. The regulatory restrictions placed upon licensees is also examined along with the personal freedom afforded to the taxi owner by the regulations, as well as the structure of the industry throughout the State including the role of the sole industry body, namely the Taxi Council of Queensland.
Any analysis of a small business enterprise would be incomplete without a financial examination. Consequently, the financial aspects of the industry have been reviewed along with arguments for and against deregulation. As a comparison, the Private Hire Car Industry has also been reviewed. This industry is, in the main, 'deregulated and provides an interesting contrast to the taxi industry.
The future directions for the taxi industry have also been discussed with the conclusions drawn that the industry has and will continue to provide a sound financial investment for licensees. However, the industry appears to have been made more attractive to potential investors through the extent of the capital gain made by 1icensees rather than the annual return on investment. It is doubted whether the dramatic rises in capital gain which have occurred over the past few years will continue in the long term, but will plateau and the value of licences will increase with the inflation rate.
Material used in the preparation of this paper has been obtained from the Taxi Council of Queensland, official Government Reports and Inquiries and publications by authors on various aspects of the taxi industry.