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Cabcharge pledges growth against the odds

AAP logoAAP 24/11/2016 Ethan James

Outgoing Cabcharge chairman Russell Balding insists the taxi industry will grow despite being forced to tolerate what he says is an uneven playing field against ride-sharing services such as Uber.

Mr Balding used his final annual general meeting appearance to attack state and territory governments for failing to support the taxi industry, saying they did not understand the industry and the challenges it faces from ride-sharing.

"The regulatory changes they have introduced to accommodate ride share have not resulted in a level playing field - quite to the contrary," he said at the meeting in Sydney on Thursday.

The taxi network and payments system operator's revenue in 2016 dropped 10.2 per cent on the previous year to $168.8 million.

A five per cent cap on fees for non-cash taxi payments - so far rolled out in NSW, Victoria, Western Australia, the ACT and the Northern Territory - has had the greatest impact on profits, Cabcharge said.

But Mr Balding backed the company to thrive under new chairman Rick Millen.

"Contrary to what some commentators and industry participants would have you believe, we have not been sitting idle in addressing our immediate operational business requirements," he said.

Cabcharge, which estimates the current value of the taxi and ride-share market to be $6.1 billion, wants to capitalise on a predicted transition from cash payments to card over the next five years.

It plans to launch new handheld terminals for taxi drivers and hire cars to make payment simpler.

"We recognise that technology is being utilised to provide passengers and drivers with more choices and have re-examined our strategy through that lens," chief executive Andrew Skelton said.

Cabcharge is also planning to refine its mobile phone applications to improve communication between drivers and passengers and grow its affiliated fleet of 7,500 cars.

It says the number of customers cancelling taxis has dropped a third in the past year.

The company has sold non-core assets including its central Sydney office earlier this year.

Cabcharge shares closed five cents, or 1.35 per cent, higher at $3.76.

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