By Hayden Smith, The Cairns Post
November 29, 2017

ALAN Tucker was driving his cab through the Cairns CBD one evening and spotted a handicapped man in need of a ride.

“He had no money and needed to get to Woree, so I took him home anyway,” he said.

“There was no way I could just let him stay there by himself all night.”

This level of customer care and service is why Mr Tucker was one of two Cairns Taxis team members to recently land major industry gongs.

The Mooroobool resident was named Driver of the Year – Wheelchair Accessible Taxis at the recent 2017 Taxi Council Queensland Awards.

His colleague Tejinder Dhother took out the award for Operator of the Year (1-20 cabs), while Jacqueline Sykes was also a finalist for Driver of the Year – Conventional Taxis.

After years in the banking sector, Mr Tucker said driving cabs specifically designed for handicapped passengers had given him a new perspective on life.

“I like the sense of community … but it can also be quite sad sometimes, seeing people in all sorts of different predicaments,” he said.

Mr Tucker said he decided to become a taxi driver because of the “opportunities”.

“I have a family to look after and also enjoy being my own boss,” he said.

Mr Dhother, a Bentley Park resident, has operated two taxis for the past six years.

Amid the rise of controversial ridesharing company Uber in the Far North, he said local cab drivers were working “harder than ever”.

“I’ve always tried my hardest,” Mr Dhother said.

“I can see a good future for myself in the industry.”

In taking out the awards, Mr Dhother and Mr Tucker edged finalists from Queensland taxi powerhouses such as Black and White Cabs Brisbane and Yellow Cabs Brisbane.

Cairns Taxis fleet services manager Chris Balsom said having three locals in contention for state awards was “unheard of”.

“And for two to come back with awards, we’re just ecstatic,” he said.

“There has been a change in the quality of service … as an organisation, we are all about continual improvement.”

Originally published as Cairns taxi drivers win fare share of awards