A robbery of a Wagga taxi driver by a gun-toting offender on Monday has raised security issues around the industry that still relies on isolated workers carrying cash.
A driver who made the switch from driving a taxi in Wagga to driving for Uber said he felt safer with a system where users had to register with their smartphone and all transactions were electronic.
However, the NSW Taxi Council said offering cash as a payment option was vital for regional areas that often had higher proportions of elderly people booking short trips.
Council deputy chief executive Nick Abrahim said a key advantage for taxis was their flexibility in payments as well as 24-hour availability.
“The split between cash payments has definitely shifted over the years and 15 years ago you could definitely say that there were more people paying by cash than by eftpos, but that has significantly turned around,” he said.
“There is definitely less cash and more cards but customers are still choosing to pay by cash as their preferred method and that’s where the taxi industry provides flexibility.
“They view is that we will continue to offer that...and Wagga is the classic example of where they have recently launched the option to book and pay with an app.”
Mr Abrahim said it was likely that cash was more popular in regional areas like Wagga than in Sydney.
A Wagga Uber driver, who asked not to be named, said he had spent a year driving taxis in the city before switching to its competitor for safety and shift flexibility reasons.
“When I was driving taxis, the safety issue was a concern,” he said.
“You pick up people you don’t even know from the taxi rank or from the streets.
“In terms of getting payments, some would choose not to pay and just run away. One person smashed my taxi’s back window with a rubbish bin.”
Uber, which allows its drivers to review passengers as well as vice versa, has been engaged in legal battles with the taxi industry.
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