Moree taxi driver Paul Raveneau hands in his plates after nearly five decades in the business

GOODBYE: Taxi driver Paul Raveneau calls it a day after 47 years in the business.
GOODBYE: Taxi driver Paul Raveneau calls it a day after 47 years in the business.

After nearly a decade of driving taxis on and off in Moree, Paul Raveneau has finally decided to call it quits, ending an 80-year family tradition.

Mr Raveneau has decided not to renew his taxi licence when it expires in a few days, on March 30, as mounting costs and health issues take their toll.

"This game doesn't really suit me anymore; I've had both my knees done and have rheumatoid arthritis from years in the shearing shed and my doctor keeps telling me that sitting for long hours isn't good for me," Mr Raveneau explained.

It was going to cost Mr Raveneau about $10,000 to renew his licence, by the time he paid for his green slip and registration, comprehensive insurance and workers compensation for his two other drivers, on top of the cost to replace the cameras in his maxi taxi which was needed to pass rego.

But with the taxi industry struggling, Mr Raveneau decided it wasn't worth it.

Over the past decade, Mr Raveneau said taxi drivers have taken "hit after hit", ever since Uber was introduced in Australia.

"This was going to be my super, my retirement money. But since the government let Uber come into the game, it's cut the cost of my plates in half," he said.

"There was a time I could have got $100,000 for my plates. I've tried to sell them for the last four years for $40,000 and didn't get many lookers.

"Even though Uber hasn't really concerned us out here in the country, we have been finding it hard.

"Fourteen years ago there were 14,000 people in Moree. We had 14 cabs here and business was good. It's now dropped down to 7 or 8,000 but we've still got 10 cabs. That's more than enough."

In Moree, taxi drivers have to compete against the various courtesy buses and pick-up/drop-off services being run by local organisations, and more recently, the introduction of the On Demand public transport service, which Mr Raveneau said has had a significant impact on his business.

"Since On Demand has come in, I've lost $500 to $1000 a week out of my wages," he said.

"Between our taxis, we were looking after the railway and the caravan park, but [the government has] given [the On Demand service] the railway and I haven't gotten a maxi job out of Gwydir Caravan Park in the last year or more."


Mr Raveneau said the money he's earning is not making ends meet.

For example, one day recently, he started at 6am and worked until 4.30pm and in that time he had four jobs, taking a total of $60.80 on the meter. Of that, $4.40 has to come out for the levy on each fare, leaving $56.40 for 10 and a half hours of work.

"But then I've got other costs that have to come out, so I've got to take another $1 for GST and put 17 per cent away for tax, not to mention the cost of fuel," Mr Raveneau said.

"Other days it could be better. Today, for example, I've been out since 6am and have taken $118 [by 12.30pm]. But then you think you're going to have a good day and then you sit here [at the taxi rank] for five to six hours with no jobs."

Mr Raveneau said although there were good times as a taxi driver, over recent years he believes it has been getting harder and harder.

The introduction of mobile phones was another challenge for taxi drivers.

"We used to get heaps of calls from telephone boxes, but since mobile phones, people would just ring their family or friends to come and get them," Mr Raveneau said.

"There's been lots of changes over the years, but it's always something that's cutting us back and back."

Another low point has been the number of rocks that have been thrown at his taxi over the years.

"I've had all my windows broken over the years," he said.

For Mr Raveneau, the decision not to renew his taxi licence is bittersweet.

His late father, Billy Williams, was a taxi driver all his life, which is what inspired Mr Raveneau to get into the business.

Between father and son, Mr Raveneau estimates they've spent more than 80 years driving taxis.

Mr Raveneau purchased his first taxi in 1973, at the age of 20, and has been driving taxis on and off ever since, in between stints as a shearer and working in the flour mill.

But for the past few years he's been solely driving taxis and has two other drivers working for him, who will also lose their jobs when he walks away at the end of this week.

Mr Raveneau's last day on the job will be this Friday, March 27.

He says he will most miss seeing all his regular customers.

"Give me a wave to say goodbye if you see me driving in my maxi taxi this week," he said.

Mr Raveneau won't be going too far though; he'll still be in Moree and said he might look at picking up a school bus route or even come back to driving taxis for someone else later on.

For now, if anyone is interested in buying his taxi plates, he is looking to sell them at a significantly reduced price.