A Queensland taxi license that was worth $530,000 about three years ago is now worth only about $150,000.
Now cabbies say they feel “doomed” and their taxi licence as a form of “superannuation” is a sinking asset.
In some cases a taxi licence owner may receive less than $150,000 for the cab licence, according to Queensland Taxi Council chief executive Blair Davies.
“A few years ago a taxi licence was selling in the order of $530,000 to $540,000,” Mr Davies said.
“These days, there are very few licences being sold,” he said.
“They buyers who are in the market are trying to pick up a cheap license.
“So the people who are selling are in circumstances where they just have to sell and what we are seeing is some very low prices.”
Mr Davies said some taxi drivers needing money were being forced to sell their licences at less than $150,000.
“I would say that $150,000 is probably a mark where some people have been selling, but we had one sell for $108,000,” he said.
“That was in Brisbane. It was a Brisbane licence.”
Brisbane cab driver Jagjit Singh agreed taxi licence prices had collapsed.
He bought his licence about 18 months ago and paid “a lot of money for it.”
He said $150,000 for a taxi licence was considered a good price and licences he knew had been sold received less.
“Less than that, less than that,” he said.
“There are many licences in the market now who are ready to be sold for $110,000” he said.
Mr Singh said he believed it was doomsday now for cabbies.
“We bought the licence looking for the future,” he said.
“When we get old we would have enough money to support our old age once we sell it.
“But I just think we are just doomed there.”
Mr Singh blames the state government’s intervention to allow Uber ride sharing to continue without paying all the same fees as taxis for robbing him of his superannuation.
“It is a form of superannuation because in this industry nobody pays your superannuation. That is your super. Your licence is your super,” he said.
“There are many people who have put their whole life in this and just suffered because of an illegal company supported by the government.”
Mr Davies said uncertainty in the taxi industry had triggered the collapsing licence price.
“Principally the government’s actions in dealing with the ride-sharing schemes have created that uncertainty about what the future of the taxi services are,” he said.
“And it is that uncertainty that is making hard for people to assess the true value of a taxi license.”
He agreed cabbies traditionally bought a taxi license as a form of superannuation.
“We are talking about people who traditionally worked a lifetime in the industry and bought a licence as their superannuation and were sitting back there as self-funded retirees,” he said.
“And now those assets are looking quite different to what they did a few years ago.”
“We are finding people going back onto pensions. And I think that is one of the untold stories in all of this.”
Back in June the Queensland government expected the price of taxi licences would rise after taxi industry reform legislation passed Queensland Parliament.
It passed extensive reforms to the taxi industry allowing ride-sharing schemes to operate in May 2017 and promised to review the impact on the industry within 18 months.
A department spokeswoman said the reforms passed by Parliament earlier this year provide “certainty to the industry, reinforce taxi licence values, and allow them to appreciate in value into the future.”
Existing taxi service licences have retained their perpetual status and still provide the opportunity for revenue generation under the reforms. Additionally, taxis have maintained exclusive access to rank and hail services.
“Taxi licences are traded on the open market, with licence values determined by the market and not set by government,” the spokeswoman said.