Safety fears as taxi marshals call it a night on New Year’s Eve as State Government axes scheme


Late night cab drivers in Adelaide will feel more vulnerable and the public will lose important services with the end of supervised taxi ranks, the Taxi Council of South Australia has warned.

Council president Steve Savas says the supervised ranks in the city helped weed out potential troublemakers.

But he said drivers will still front up and do their jobs, especially on busy nights like New Year’s Eve.

“They will feel more vulnerable, but they will still head to those ranks because that’s where people will line up and wait,” Mr Savas told ABC radio on Monday.

The council has lost state government funding that helped provide a late night concierge and security service at key city taxi ranks, including Hindley St and the Adelaide Casino, on Friday and Saturday nights.

The 11-year-old scheme will come to an end tonight, as other safety measures including CCTV remain in place. Axing the marshals is expected to save the State Budget $190,000 per year.

A Government spokeswoman said taxi ranks would continue to have signage, lighting and CCTV surveillance and those in high-profile areas are regularly patrolled by police.

She said the new Government had also expanded police station hours in entertainment precincts.

Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas said the cut would cost 21 jobs and reduce general safety, while also raising concerns it could worsen violence against women.

“Parents concerned for the safety of their children in the city late at night will now have an added worry,” he said.

“Managed taxi ranks help keep passengers and drivers safe.

“This cut just doesn’t make any sense.”

The Government says it has rolled out a comprehensive strategy to combat violence against women since being elected, including millions of dollars for support services.

The end to the service also comes after an attack on a driver at Felixstow on Sunday who escaped serious injury after being punched several times to the head and body by three passengers who then stole his wallet and overnight takings.

23-year-old man was later arrested over the incident and charged with aggravated robbery.

Mr Savas said late night and early morning pick-ups can be “scary” for drivers.

He said the council was continually trying to educate cabbies to better assess situations before picking up passengers in potentially dangerous circumstances such as a dark street or in a park.

“That’s another reason why they prefer to go to those (supervised) ranks. They know that they’re safe there,” he said.

“They know that whoever is going to get in their cab has been scrutinised by the concierge and the security people.”

Mr Savas said the managed ranks also provided a valuable service for the public, often serving as a safe pick-up venue for parents collecting their children or to provide assistance in emergencies.

Southern Domestic Violence Action Group chair Di Newton said the loss of the supervised ranks would put women at particular risk, “especially when they may have been out drinking and are vulnerable”.

“Women will be planning their nights out from January 1 onwards expecting this service to be there, only to discover that it’s not in the early hours of the morning, and they will be placed at even higher risk,” she said.

Mr Savas said the council was looking to replace the government funding through private sponsorship.