Len Martin is celebrating 43 years in the Taxi Industry on July 1st of 2019. We sat down and chatted to Len about his experience within the industry covering all topics. We his biggest achievements, notable accomplishments, barriers and difficulties that were faced and how he sees the work within the Taxi industry benefiting society as a whole.
What is your biggest achievement so far?
I think that 40 years in the taxi industry has to be a pretty big achievement. When one looks back 40 years I can remember my very first fare and what a thrill it was to be driving a taxi. I still long to get back behind the wheel and drive. Being part of an industry for 40 years and seeing it change, the massive changes that have occurred and the wonderful people behind the industry. One of my heroes is Greg Webb because he came in at the eleventh hour and saved black and white from going under. It was really tough times. One of my greatest friends in the industry is Kathy, who I have known for 25 years the biggest thing is the massive changes. Being able to press a button on your phone and they turn up, know who you are, where you are and the driver has your number. It’s unbelievable. I can’t believe how it happens. The ease and automation of it all. Everything is easy now.
How do you see that the work you do contributes to the community?
Firstly it provides a first class door to door transport. It in a fast and efficient manner. The taxi industry covers all of the requirements of what the public may need. For instance – people in a wheelchair can get a wheelchair taxi. People with seeing eye dogs can also access taxi services. People who are incapacitated can through a government subsidy have up to 50% of the fare paid for by the government. This could only happen within the taxi industry. The safety features – every taxi is GPS tracked. Every driver is checked by the federal government every 24 hours. Every taxi is inspected an average of 4 times a year for mechanic and cosmetic purposes. People with lost property – easy to locate lost property in taxis. Easily located and restored to rightful owner. Estimates of fares can be given straight away and the wonderful apps that are available. All sorts of apps to suit everybody’s requirement sin regards to ordering the taxi. The taxi industry continues to look at innovative ways to improve the service. The taxi industry moves around 90 million people a year and 50% happens within the first 10 minutes of people calling for a taxi.
What are some barriers or difficulties that you have faced? How did you overcome these?
Too regulated – bit of a problem with getting innovation out to the public. Grown up thinking call for a cab now we can’t get that thinking away from that. Still people thinking we don’t have an app despite efforts.
Making them realise that there’s more ways to – removing the stigma We take on everything and find a solution for it. There are no barriers that I can see personally that have come my way. I believe that the way the taxi industry is run and regulated by QLD transport is pretty good however, I would like to see taxi drivers being able to access the training and be able to drive a taxi with less regulation. Currently a driver has to have his driver’s license in Australia for 1 year before he can even apply to drive a taxi. Further to that he has to have 2 years on top of that. Total of 3 years with 1 in Australia. We are constantly short of drivers. Drivers knocking on the doors wishing to drive taxis who have to wait long periods to have to apply. Government overreacting to something and putting up yet another regulation. If there is hurdle, we just jump over it – knock it down. The taxi industry constantly comes across hurdles that affect the income of the drivers and the taxi companies however time has proven that Black & White Cabs have always stepped up and been able to overcome any problem that arises and continues to improve and invest in the company to ensure they have the best possible service available.
Lots of students who would love to drive taxis but can’t due to laws. Currently not possible because they must have had the driver’s license for the 3 year period. If this was to be relaxed down to 1 year or 1.5 years it would create a lot more employment for people who wish to join the taxi industry as a driver.
What has been the best self-development and/or training?
Black & White Cabs invested a lot of money in having me trained as a driver trainer and as a taxi supervisor trainer. As a result, I have spent the last 12 years as taxi rank coordinator for Taxi Council of Queensland. Generally, we have control over about 14 taxi ranks, stationary around the city, valley and Paddington. Some of these ranks have specific types of vehicles such as maxis only and these have proven very popular in moving people out of town. These are called flat fare maxi ranks. Nearly a million people per year.
What are some notable accomplishments?
As a result, I have had 2 taxi council awards. Being able to safely move people through our safe support taxi ranks which are controlled by taxi supervisors and security guards and this insures that the passenger gets home safe and the driver gets paid and has a safe journey as well. During this period there is no record of anybody assaulting any of our taxi drivers or a taxi driver getting into any sort of trouble due to the support of safe security ranks. Due to rank supervision because of protocols in place to ensure that safety of the driver and some of these are;
– Valley Safety Committee which is a subcommittee of the VCC.
– The safe night our precinct sin fortitude valley, Caxton street and Brisbane CBD.
– The SMAC which is actually Suncorp management advisory commitment.
– The Brisbane Racing Advisory Group.
– A member of crime stoppers – proudly wearing a crime stoppers uniform.
– I am a Black & White Cabs representative dealing directly with Chaplain watch and assisting with their fundraising.