Wednesday 18 February 2009

Incompetent taxi drivers

Sydney is home to some shocking taxi drivers. I'd have to say that the majority of my taxi rides are experiences that I would prefer not to repeat. The Silver Service taxis are generally very good, but the run of the mill drivers are, quite frankly, nuts.

I had one a few years ago that continued driving at night with no lights - his low beams were out, but his high beam was ok, so he drove around constantly flashing his high beam to see where he was going. I was pretty drunk, so I didn't want to bail before he dropped me home (and I was too drunk to adequately assess the risk of being in a speeding cab at night with no lights), but I did ring the Department of Transport and slurringly report his plate as soon as I staggered in the front door. The driver showed no concern at blinding other drivers with his high beam, and hooning up darkened streets with no lights at all.

Most have the mentality of couriers, who are generally mad. They treat the passenger as an object to be carted from A to B at warp speed, with little regard for the road rules and other road users. Years ago, I listened to a speech made by the CEO of Sydney Buses. He was talking about recruiting bus drivers. He said that traditionally, they recruited truckies, because they had lots of experience at driving heavy vehicles.

However, he went on to say that they made really lousy bus drivers, because they could not make the mental switch from carting sheep to carting people - they viewed their passengers as dumb livestock that could be thrown around in the back without regard for their welfare or comfort. Many taxi drivers seem to suffer from this same state of mind.

Which is another good reason to ride a bike.

Anyway, I had to refuel the beast tonight, and the cheapest diesel around here is the taxi petrol station over in Rozelle/Balmain. I managed to squeeze in next to the diesel bowser, earning me lots of dirty looks from the taxi drivers queuing for the LPG pumps. They were definitely giving me the look of "this is our petrol station - bugger off". I really got the feeling that I was trespassing on their territory.

The reason I had to squeeze in is due to the mammothly incompetent manner in which the drivers had queued up and parked at the pumps. Instead of forming an orderly, straight line to the pumps, they were all over the place. Taxis were not parked parallel to the pumps - they were flung in at an angle of maybe 15 degrees, which almost blocked the next lane (the lane I came in on).

The drivers were their own worst enemies - others pulled up to buy a kebab from the kebab caravan, and they abandoned their cabs right in the spot where departing vehicles had to drive through.

You really have to wonder about all that. If they can't even park their cabs in a competent and polite manner, what are they like out on the road? It spoke volumes about their driving skills, and their attitude to other drivers.


1735099 said...

I was in Melbourne at a conference in 2001, and we needed a taxi to get us to the Crown Casino. We hailed a cab - the driver was certifiable. He drove the wrong way up one-way streets and drove on the kerb as often as on the roadway. At the first red light he stopped at - only because there was a line of cars in front - we (three of us) bailed out. I remember he also had an appalling body odour. I know this because I drew the short straw to sit in the front. I'm not sure if this is typical.

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