Council's missing taxi subsidy contract goes under review
A SUBSIDISED pensioner taxi scheme costing Ipswich City Council about $15,000 each year has operated for five years with no formal agreement.
The City Heart Cabs Program was launched as a subsidised travel program for some Ipswich residents in January 2011.
It allows people receiving an age pension, disability support pension or carer's payment to travel by taxi from their home to a local shopping centre for only $2 per person each way.
Riverlink Shopping Centre and Ipswich City Square are the only destination points in the program that are funded by the council; costing about $15,000 each year.
Between 50 and 70 people use the program.
Yellow Cabs invoices the council on a monthly basis for the fares they have incurred that month, the difference between the full fare and the $2 rate for participants.
The council has continued to pay for the service despite no agreement to fund it.
"There is currently no contract in place with Yellow Cabs for the delivery of the program, with the last contract having expired on June 30, 2013," a council report noted.
Yellow Cabs gives the council information about service usage, names of service users, pick-up points, destinations and the full fare.
Privacy laws prevent the verification of a person's eligibility to use the service, meaning the program operates on an "honour system".
This week Ipswich administrator Greg Chemello was presented with several options for the service, including cutting off funding.
Mr Chemello directed council officers to review the City Heart Cabs program.
A report from the Communities Committee recommended if the council was to continue its financial support of subsidised travel, a significant review be conducted in the next financial year to explore the program's purpose, benchmark against other Local Government Areas, consider equity of access and to increase efficiency.
A report about the program's value is due back in 2019.
The City Heart Cabs program will continue in the meantime.
It started in 2011 with only Riverlink Shopping Centre and Ipswich City Square as destinations.
Redbank Plaza, Brassall, Booval Fair and Orion Town Centre later joined the program in partnership with the council, with funding provided by the shopping centres and marketing support provided by the council.
Redbank Plains has since ceased operation of the program.
The subsidised cabs program excludes residents in Ipswich's outer suburbs, including Rosewood.
A trial run by Translink for demand responsive transport is underway in Logan, which Ipswich City Council believes may influence future strategies of the State Government.
Translink also offers a Taxi Subsidy Scheme for people with extreme disabilities and FlexiLink services for residents in some areas of Ipswich, but the State Government is also reviewing its taxi subsidisation.