'Fat' passenger paid extra taxi fee

A TAXI driver has revealed one of his colleagues slugged a woman passenger with an extra fee - because she was overweight.

Speaking on the day the Queensland Government announced a crackdown on unscrupulous cabbies, the Ipswich driver said local customers were regularly being ripped-off by a range of dubious surcharges.

The long-time cabbie said newcomers to the industry were tarnishing its image and said he backed moves to stamp out cheats.

The Yellow Cab driver, who asked to remain anonymous, said regular customers had reported a series of scams.

“One lady said she was charged extra at the end of her journey for being overweight - it's outrageous,” he said.

“It's appalling she was asked to pay more.

“I never heard anything like it before, that kind of thing just doesn't come to most taxi drivers' minds.”

Other incidents reported by the driver included:

• Passengers being forced to pay a $10 surcharge on public holidays.

• Passengers being charged for air-conditioning and use of a GPS system.

• One driver refusing to leave his car to open the gate for a blind passenger.

“It's distressing to hear on a daily basis so many complaints from my customers,” he said.

“What they are doing is illegal and it reflects badly on the drivers who are doing the right thing.”

The driver said foreign workers with limited experience as cabbies in Australia were often to blame - a claim Yellow Cabs general manager Bill Parker denies.

On Monday Mr Parker told The Queensland Times that foreign drivers in Ipswich were the victims of a rising number of racially-motivated taunts and attacks.

Seventy per cent of Yellow Cab drivers are from overseas, but Mr Parker said the “vast majority” did a great job.

The Cab Drivers' Association of Queensland secretary Lee Sims said there were too many horror stories about foreign drivers for them to be dismissed.

“I think it's a cultural issue with some foreign drivers,” Mr Sims said.

Queensland's Transport Minister Rachel Nolan yesterday revealed new measures to raise standards in the industry.

Prospective cabbies will have to be at least 20 years old and have driven on the nation's roads using an Australian licence before a taxi driver authorisation will be issued.

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