Hamilton suffering lack of late-night taxis

CHRIS GARDNER
Last updated 05:00 03/12/2012

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A Hamilton bar and cafe owner is calling on taxi companies to lay on more drivers to cover a shortage on busy Friday and Saturday nights.

Jason Macklow, director of the Phoenix Group which runs CBD, Smith and McKenzie, House, Iguana, rodeorodeo, Grand Central Hotel, mobar and Domaine Eatery, said the city's approximately 150 taxi drivers was not enough.

Punters often waited for more than half an hour to get a ride home after a night out on the town and the city could do with another taxi company.

"There does not seem to be enough taxis in Hamilton," Mr Macklow said. "It's a struggle to get one. Sometimes there is people waiting for 40 minutes. Hood Street is a really busy place. In other cities there seems to be a hell of a lot of taxis around."

Peta Bozanich, and her best friend who uses a wheelchair, regularly use Red Cars to go into town.

"Going into town isn't usually too much of an issue, about 20 minutes wait," she said.

"Heading home, on the other hand, we have waited up to an hour."

Andy Collins, manager of Red Cabs in Hamilton, said punters wanting a ride from the busy Hood Street on a Friday or Saturday night should forget it.

"On a Friday and Saturday night you would be wasting your time ringing from Hood Street. We direct people to walk around the corner and wait outside the Waikato Museum. On a Friday or Saturday night people calling at 11pm can expect anything up to a 30-minute wait. Between 11pm and 3am is the busy time and we would have about 21 cars on," he said.

With Red Cabs $10 would get fares from the Hood Street area to The Warehouse at Hillcrest or the Dinsdale roundabout.

Narelle Davidson-Small, administration manager of The Cab Company in Hamilton, said people should have the same expectations of her company.

"We have 63 cars, the biggest taxi company in the city, and how long people wait depends on what car is in the area. Because we are on a GPS system, the job will go to the car that's closest. It would be a 30 or 40-minute wait at the weekend," she said.

"At $3 per km and a $2.50 call out fee $10 wouldn't get you very far. A lot of our drivers are good at taking a woman home if she is a couple of dollars short."

Policing manager Inspector Leo Tooman thought there were enough taxi drivers, but most didn't want to work late nights and early mornings.

"From 2am to 4am they are in pretty big demand . . . the alternative is a sober driver, in the old days seen as a bit of a hero, or the Night Rider bus. A few more taxis could help because taxis are a lot more flexible," Mr Tooman said.

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"Is it worthwhile looking into creating a taxi company to operate for three hours on a Friday night and three hours on a Saturday night? But it's not many drivers that want to work these hours."

He urged drinkers to save enough cash for a taxi home, or catch the Night Rider bus.

- Waikato Times

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