I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Industry and Trade, representing the Minister for Transport, a question regarding Access Cabs.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Mr President, I can assure you that I have not been conspiring with the Democrats on this issue, but it has come to my attention—
The Hon. Ian Gilfillan interjecting:
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: No conspiracies, not on this side. This has come to my attention via a constituent whose grandmother is a resident of the Charles Young Residential Care Centre at Morphettville. This constituent’s grandmother is 93 years of age, and I will be happy to provide her details to the government if it is interested in her plight.
On 20 October this year, she was prebooked with an Access Cab to attend a specialist appointment. The Access Cab did not turn up and, on calling Access Cabs, the response on the other end of the phone was, ‘There aren’t any available and in spite of the fact it has been prebooked that is just too bad, you have to rebook it.’ My constituent, having spoken to the staff at the nursing home, says that they report that incidents of cabs not showing up are becoming more prevalent and that this is a well-known situation with other residential care facilities, as well. A theory has been propounded that, particularly around 3 p.m. or 3.30 p.m., prebooked Access Cabs are diverted to pick up children with disabilities from school; therefore, there are not enough cabs to pick up elderly people from nursing homes. My questions are:
1. In relation to this incident and similar incidents, are Access Cabs in breach of their service agreements?
2. What are the measures of service?
3. How are the service obligations monitored and what penalties applied?
4. Has there been any policy directive, either within the Department of Transport from the minister or within Access Cabs, that priority should be given to any particular group, whether that be younger people with disabilities—
The Hon. R.K. Sneath interjecting:
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: That’s what you’re here for: you’re the government. This is what we do: we ask questions. I amindebted to the Hon. Mr Sneath, who does not understand the role of members in this council. I will continue with the questions:
5. Given that in this incident the lady in question was booked to see a specialist, is the government concerned that it is potentially endangering lives in that medical conditions from which people may be suffering may not be detected?
6. What strategies does Access Cabs have to manage situations of peak demand?
The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY (Minister for Industry and Trade): I will refer the questions to the Minister for Transport.
I think it is obvious that the minister will be able to answer the question only if she has details of the specific case. Clearly, a number of circumstances may apply. As I understand it, Access Cabs is operated by a non-government organisation. But, if the honourable member provides the information of the case to me, I will refer it to the minister;
or, if she provides it directly to the Minister for Transport, I am sure that will assist in getting a speedy reply.
Monday 21 November 2005
In reply to Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (11 November 2004).
The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY: The Minister for Transport has provided the following information:
The incident in question or any single incident does not constitute a breach of Access Cabs service agreement with the Office of Public Transport.
The contracting parties have agreed that the principle reason for entering into the Agreement to provide Centralised Booking Services for Access Taxis was to achieve continuous performance improvement.
The measures of service include the number of jobs dispatched, particularly in the evenings, the average waiting times for customers, the percentage of customers waiting 30 minutes or longer, and the number of complaints received from customers.
Whenever it is clear that the contractor has failed to provide a timely service, an adjustment will be made to its monthly service payment. Adjustments are made for each occurrence unless the lack of timeliness cannot be attributed to the contractor, i.e. when a customer has a preference for a particular driver or vehicle. The contract contains provisions that enable the Office of Public Transport to deduct defective service amounts for services not provided within various time parameters. Therefore, it is in Adelaide Access Taxis’ best interest to direct drivers to certain jobs.
There are approximately 40 regular jobs delivering school children to and from school during the peak periods, and there are currently 69 Access Taxis in the fleet. Whilst the capacity of the fleet is reduced during peak times, there will still be taxis available to take jobs. The regular pre-booked work for school children is allocated to drivers at the beginning of each school term. Drivers are likely to give preference to these regular clients when considering other jobs that become available around the same times. No policy directive has been given by myself or my Department.
Adelaide Access Taxis endeavour to provide a timely service to all Access Taxi customers. It is not in its or the Government’s interest to provide a service to customers that does not meet their needs. The Government is committed to providing a timely Access Cab Service for all customers and has made provisions for service improvements within the current Access Cab Contract.
There are several strategies that Access Cabs use to manage situations of peak demand, these include:
Pre-allocating drivers to jobs booked in advance. This also increases the efficient use of the fleet, as jobs are scheduled to vehicles.
Constantly seeking opportunities to ride-share, or opportunities for vehicles to schedule a number of trips in the same area.
Allowing the time taken to load and unload customers, and the length of the trip are all taken into account when scheduling bookings.
Staggering the booking times of customers, Adelaide Access Taxis operators will suggest customers consider another time for their taxi booking when it appears that all taxis will be busy at a particular time.
Deploying an additional two standby vehicles to increase fleet capacity.
Bookings are also based on an average number of trips per hour.
Once the maximum number of trips per hour has been reached, no more bookings during those hours are made.