WONTHAGGI’S Betty Finnen is fed up.
The elderly woman was left to feel helpless last Tuesday when she was left stranded at the Wonthaggi Medical Centre after a booked taxi failed to arrive.
The reception staff at the medical centre booked a taxi for Betty at about 11.55am and she waited outside.
She waited half an hour before returning inside when reception called the taxi service again.
After about 10 minutes, South Coast Taxis was called to check the status of the booking.
Betty returned outside for another 20 minutes, before deciding to cancel the booking and walk 1km home with her walking frame.
Thankfully, she ran into her neighbour as she departed, and was driven home.
Betty felt disgusted that after nearly an hour, a taxi hadn’t arrived.
“They should get more taxis, they’re not doing a very good job for the public, and it’s for the public isn’t it?” she said.
“There was another lady with a cane waiting for a taxi as well and she was getting upset.
“I hate to moan about anything but for all the people that have told me about not getting taxis, I feel sorry for them too.”
Director of South Coast Taxis, Michael Wright, said the delay was due to car availability at the particular time.
“We had five cars rostered on in Wonthaggi and surrounds and 15 cars in the region this day which is normal,” he said.
“It was not a particularly busy day with periods of time when multiple cars were sitting around waiting for a job, but at this particular time between noon and 1pm, jobs popped up in the system which engaged cars in out of town jobs.
“We had one car in Melbourne for a medical-related trip which isn’t uncommon and shouldn’t affect servicing demand locally.
“At this particular time other jobs popped up at the same time which sent cars from Wonthaggi to destinations like Coronet Bay and Venus Bay, with one car doing some local jobs in Inverloch. This left one car covering Wonthaggi.
“This is an unusual occurrence to have so many long jobs all at the one time. Between noon and 1pm, this one car covered six jobs and the wait time got out to almost 60 minutes.
“There was no issue with (Betty’s) booking as it was in our system at the time, but unfortunately we could not meet the demand between noon and 1pm on Tuesday, February 2 in Wonthaggi.
“We agree this is not an acceptable time to wait and we apologise to the customer and the Wonthaggi Medical Centre for the situation that occurred. We also apologise to the other customers who experienced long waits at this time.”
Widespread taxi issues
A local carer, who does not wish to be named, sees many elderly people experiencing problems with taxis.
She said it’s simply not good enough.
“If they have an appointment, they phone to pre-book a taxi and it doesn’t turn up.
“They spend time ringing repeatedly to see where the taxi is, but they just get fobbed off saying it’s on its way and half the time they don’t turn up,” she said.
“The elderly are late for appointments, they’re very polite, they start to get stressed and it’s not good for them.”
She said the taxi services need an overhaul.
“Apart from getting old and losing independence from driving on their own, they’re losing that little bit of independence because they can’t rely on taxis to get them from A to B,” she said.
“A lot of time it’s to go to hospital or medical appointments. It’s not just happening to one person every now and then, it’s happening every day.
“My brain’s still working reasonably well but when things like this happen it causes a lot of stress for the elderly and they get into a panic – they rush and they’ve fallen. We need to do something about it.”
Mr Wright denied that long wait times are a common occurrence.
“No doubt our biggest challenge is finding the balance between customer wait times and vehicle sustainability, namely driver earnings,” he said.
“We put a lot of effort into monitoring, analysing and predicting trends and most of the time we get it right, but there are occasions when we don’t meet customer expectations on wait times.
“Our internal bench mark is anything longer than 15 minutes past a booking time is not an acceptable wait time and we are constantly working to improve our success in this area.
“In 2015, we covered over 85,000 taxi bookings in the region with most of these being on time and 89.52 per cent of these bookings were collected in under 15 minutes.
“We are conscious that 10.48 per cent of these bookings exceeded a 15 minute wait time and a portion of these bookings were in the acceptable level of wait time.
“This can be very frustrating to our customers when this occurs and it is certainly something that we don’t want to put them through. This percentage of bookings is something we are working very hard to reduce.”