Sample conversations you would hear at one of Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle’s proposed four CBD taxi superstops:
FIRST PERSON AT HEAD OF QUEUE: Doncaster thanks
THIRD PERSON IN QUEUE: I’m going to Doncaster too – wanna split it?
SECOND PERSON: Hang on, stop pushing in.
THIRD P.I.Q: Piss off.
FIRST PERSON: No thanks…
THIRD: Why the f-ck not?
FOURTH ETC: Come on…
THIRD (to cab driver): I’ll tip you ten bucks to take me
FIRST, SECOND, etc: come on if you think you’re hard enough
THIRD: you want some? Who wants some?….
SEVENTY-FIFTH PERSON IN QUEUE (MALE): Hey, had a good night…
SEVENTY-SIXTH PERSON IN QUEUE (FEMALE): Fine…
75th PIQ: Yeah, personally, I’m maggoted. You have nice eyes…
77th PIQ, SVCT76thPIQ* (MALE): Piss off mate
75th PIQ: What’s your f-cking problem?
77th PIQ: I’m her f-cking boyfriend…
76th PIQ: Can you forget it, Ian?
77th PIQ: Can you stop leading them on, Debbie?
75th PIQ: Yeah, Ian.
77th PIQ: Mind your f-cking business.
76TH PIQ: Well isn’t that up to Debbie
75TH PIQ: WE’RE NEVER GOING TO GET HOME!!!!!!!
75th PIQ (to Debbie): Wanna check into a hote–
77th PIQ: — Right.
SOUNDS OF BREAKING SKULL ETC
*STANDING VERY CLOSE TO 75TH PERSON IN QUEUE
FOUR PEOPLE IN QUEUE: We’re dropping off at Prahran, picking one up at Caulfield, and then ending at Clarinda…
DRIVER: Can’t do it. It’s a fixed fare.
PEOPLE BEHIND THEM: We’re all going to Glen Waverley.
DRIVER: Hop in…
FIRST FOUR PEOPLE: Hey…
PERSON WAY BACK: Hey Debbie and I are going to Glen W-
76TH PERSON IN QUEUE: We are not…
77TH PIQ: I warned you mate…
OTHER PEOPLE: What about Doncaster?
DRIVER: I’m going to Glen Waverley…
OTHER PEOPLE: But it’s just a right t– twenty bucks! Twenty bucks extra for…
GENERAL COLLAPSE INTO MASS VIOLENCE
Oh yeah, four taxi superstops and fixed fares will really cut down the frustrations of getting home. I know that there are dangers in writing about Australian life from aways away, but has Melbourne really become Mogadishu on the Yarra? Is it more violent or dangerous than London or New York or any of the other cities where taxis circulate freely?
Or is it simply that Bleak City has fallen into the hands of an ex-private school teacher, determined to treat the whole city as a school “house”, with detentions and compulsory games? Surely not. What’s that he said? “Drinking and drug-taking louts who are ruining it for the rest of us…” Oh, okay then.
For all the reasons suggested above, and dozens more that will no doubt be suggested in the next few days, Doyle’s taxi scheme is a mad idea, an expression of the fear the boring suburbanite has of the city. If a city is to have anything worthwhile in terms of intensity, speed, fluidity, etc, it has to have a bit of flexibility to it, and being able to flag down a taxi is part of that. Is it possible that punters and drivers could be treated as adults, capable of making their own arrangements, without lining up crocodile-fashion under the watchful eye of Doyle’s prefects?
And if the superstops idea is dumb, the fixed-fares thing is at juliebishop level. Every city that’s tried these — Washington DC being the most recent — has abandoned them, for the simple reason that anything more complex than a ride that could be run by a tram throws everyone into arbitrary confusion. Eventually, people just give up and the whole trip record becomes falsified, with tips making up the slack.
What Melbourne needs is what all cities need on Fridays and Saturdays — all-night public transport systems, which drain people away, and make the taxi/public transport choice a price one, not a fierce Darwinian struggle for the occasional free cab. Superstops with 200 tired, drunk, cold, shagless people — yeah, that’ll keep the peace.
Hopefully, the state government will knock this one on the head. In the meantime, could someone from Doyle’s own party explain the meaning of the word “liberal” to him?