Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Taxi Cabs

I don't care much for Melbourne's taxi industry. I have written about taxis before but this is a new slant because I have seen where it works well.

Have I ever held back about racial matters? Of course I have but I walk a fine line when I risk offending people of other races. It is not my intention, but I will call it as I see it in this post at least.

In my very young days, taxi drivers were umpteen generation Australians. Taxi driving was a respected profession and they earned a reasonable income. They took no crap from anyone and although I suspect the whole industry was corrupt, it worked well for your average taxi passenger.

As I became older, the industry became dominated by born Greeks, Italians, Yugoslavs and other Mediterranean immigrants. If they saw the chance, some would cheat you rotten. But still, they were Australians too, just of different origins and you were able to communicate with them and they knew their roads............that is which one to take you the long way around, but still get you to your destination. They knew our city.

Now we have a new lot of drivers, minorly from the Middle East but mostly from South Asia. Most of them have not been in our country for long, are not Australians, have appalling driving skills and no knowledge of our city. But for the income they earn, we are lucky to have them.

Rob wrote a good post about security for taxi drivers and of course, they should always be safe and secure in their workplace.

Taxis work quite well in third world countries. They seemed to me to work quite well in Singapore too.

But we are not Singapore nor a third world country. How can our taxis work better for us and better for those who supply the service?

Look no further than England. No doubt Brian and/or Pants will correct any facts that are wrong. (English lesson #101, facts by definition cannot be wrong, in my opinion. You cannot have facts that are wrong).

You have your traditional English taxi, often black, although I saw some maroon ones too. They are diesel powered, very reliable and that their shape and style has been retained, says a lot about English attitudes. They are much more, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' than we are. But these taxis, or Hackney Cabs, provide an excellent service and they charge accordingly.

Then you have your mini cab, which is much more like our Australian taxi service.

Certainly in the area I was in, in northern England, these cabs mainly work the suburbs. They are only allowed to go into the centre of town to drop off passengers and not allowed to pick up in town. They are not allowed to pick up on the street anywhere at all if they are hailed and must be booked by telephone. They may have ranks to sit at, but I did not see any.

So, when you ring a mini cab, there will be a record of your call and it seemed to stop any nonsense against the drivers. I puzzled for a while at a pub where we were for a night out. Taxis were steadily arriving, picking up people and departing but there was not a group of taxis waiting. They had all been individually ordered by customers, as we did when we were to depart.

On another occasion when we took a taxi out to a club, we asked for him to return at a set time, about 11.15pm I think, and sure enough, there he was at 11.15 waiting for us. See that happening in Melbourne, not!

I am only guessing, but I think the fares in mini cabs were about the same as our standard cab fare.

Ok, the old style cabs are a protected industry, but really, combined with mini cabs, the system just seems to work.

Last anecdote, R's late mother used to catch mini cabs often. She used the same driver and no matter where she went, she always paid £5. One day when her usual driver was not available, she had a fare dispute with the replacement driver. She pointed out that she only pays £5 and referred him back to her normal driver. Although this was not so long ago, the mini cabs are all metered now.

PS This has taken three days to write and I don't know why. I am over it now, publish and be damned.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


I just don't get it. This truck tried to go under a bridge and it was too high to clear the bridge. Now, sometimes trucks have loads on them that vary but from my observations, most of the trucks that hit bridges are quite standard. Where trams run under the bridges and the overhead wiring is taken out, it causes massive disruption and inconvenience to tram passengers and it happens all to often. How often do we hear that a truck has brought down the tram overhead wiring at the corner of Spencer and Flinders Streets? Often!

All bridges have their clearance signposted and I would guess that inside trucks are signs that tells of the truck's height. Then there is the truck driver's basic instinct and awareness of clearances.....ohhhh, that looks a bit low for my truck.

How hard can this be for professional drivers?

Photo by Ian Green.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Beach Boys

Would you believe after over four years, and thank you to Ann O'Dyne for reminding me, I have run out of stuff to say. Probably just for today. There is a lot happening and on my mind at the moment. So today's post is just a kinda cute picture I came across on the net, god knows where. Well, I like it anyways. In spite of the peeking, they look very 'ah beng'.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Out and about in St Kilda #lost track

Bless, Fitzroy Street in St Kilda streetscape is pretty well intact. There are some ugly buildings and some very nice, but none bang you in the eye.

This apartment building is Summerland Mansions. I don't know if it is strata titled, thus each apartment individually owned or if one person or a company owns the building. It is of an age where it could be stratum titled, where occupants own shares in the company who owns the building and have permanent occupancy rights.

No matter, it is pretty nice and those who have the sheltered balconies at the front are very fortunate, but I would want double glazing for my bedroom at least. Back in the days when my employer was very different, it employed a counsellor (Yeah AB and RK, Beppie) and she bought an apartment in Fitzroy Street, a new development, but she was driven out by the street noise and moved to the cattle yards development in Newmarket.

Bottom left hand corner is a milk bar, rather than the more modern 'convenience store'. Most of the rest along street level are restaurants I think.

Whatever happened to?

So what happened to the City of Melbourne and City of Port Phillip joint St Kilda Road Action Plan of 2005? I haven't seen any action apart from a couple of gabfests.

What happened to the feasibility study into connecting the two separate tram tracks in Park Street South Melbourne? Probably about 2005 too.

What happened to footbridge for St Kilda Road and Queens Road residents and workers to cross Queens Road to Albert Park Lake? First mentioned well before 2005.

What happened to the restoration of the unused old tram signal box at the corner of Victoria and Swanston Streets? The developer of Verve Apartments was supposed to stump up for this. Ah, developer's promises.

What happened to the Lyric Theatre which was supposed to be part of the Crown Casino entertainment complex?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Just a day

I don't like saying the word venting, because I think of birds and their vent, that is their waste material exit point as breeders of certain birds call the orifice. Weird word to describe an asshole. But perhaps I will vent.

My birthday present from R for my significant birthday last year once again did not happen. The balloon flight was cancelled this morning because of dodgy weather. Apparently this is my fault because I did not show enough enthusiasm about the balloon flight. Perhaps I needed time for it to sink in, besides, I was so excited by my new digital camera that he had also given me.

We somewhat testily did some cleaning out of wardrobes and bookcases today. I have finished transferring all vcr tapes to dvd with the machine bought off Ebay. Now I will start on the porn tapes. There are more of them and I am not sure why I am bothering as we never watch them. I just want to keep a bit of history. We never watched the old movie, tv show or personal tapes either. But a dvd is a lot easier to store than a video tape.

I also learnt quite a bit about the Toppy, the Toppfield digital recording machine. I can recommend it if you can cope with technology. It has nearly done my head in, but I am master of it now.

Much paper shredded, three bins full, how to destroy a video tape experimentation done for porn tapes, umpteen bags carried down to recycling room.

Then off to hospital to see step father in Dandenong Hospital. He is looking better and was looking forward to his catscan to finally sort out what he thought was a gall stone problem.

Do some shopping in Coles in Oakleigh, what a big store. How nice and friendly are the staff! Visit friend in South Oakleigh. He had participated in today's police memorial march that once again disrupted our city. Ah well, coppers dying when they are doing their job is a worthy cause I suppose.

See old muffler advertisement sign on way home and connect back to Jayne.

Phone call from mother to tell me step father has possible cancerous tumour. Damn, this is gonna be a bother.

Highriser pours a glass of Scotch as R furiously slams his bedroom door after bringing up twenty plus year old arguing history. Sometimes it is all just too hard.

Radio Waves

I worry about our air. No, not because of normal pollution. That is a given and we have been worrying about it for a long time. What I wonder about is all the signals and radio waves travelling through the air. How can they all fit? Is there space for birds to continue to fly? Can they still navigate? What do the waves do to your head or brain as the waves pass through or even around.

In the past fifty years, the number of radio waves have increased umpteen thousands of times. What are they doing to us? We have just added a heap more with satellite navigation systems in our cars, well maybe yours, not mine since I am poor and a sat nav would look silly in a twenty three year old car.

The eccentric, but grudgingly respected my medicos, Sydney brain surgeon Charlie Teo thinks mobile phones are doing our heads in, well our brains, possibly causing cancerous tumours.

I had a friend who started suffering bad headaches and he suspected his mobile phone use could be the cause. He switched to handsfree and the headaches disappeared. Just one anecdote but I am sure there are many more out there.

How many more radio waves can fit in the air? Surely at some point, even if they don't do us physical harm, they are all going to get tangled up and stop working.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Out and about in St Kilda #4

Residents and activists fought ever so hard against this development behind and at the side of the Esplanade Hotel, The Espy. They had some success in having its size reduced, but really what was the point. St Kilda's Upper Esplanade streetscape has been ruined and it wasn't just this project.