Item 9.2 - Attachment 1

Detailed Report









1.      This report is in response to the Council resolution from the Council Report “Taxi Use of Bus Priority Facilities” considered by Council on 14 December 2009.


2.      The draft Integrated Transport Plan for Parramatta City Centre was on public exhibition in November/December 2009.  This draft plan included taxis and the taxi industry being invited to comment but no comments were received relating to taxis.  The draft Plan is subject to a separate Council report scheduled for 22 March 2010.  No further adopted documents or policies documents were identified which covered taxis and private hire cars.




3.      Buses are different from taxis and private hire cars and this is summarised in the table below.  The basic differences are that buses are large shared vehicles with a low fare, fixed route and fixed timetable whereas taxis and private hire cars are small vehicles with a degree of privacy, higher fare and passenger demand responsive to time, destination and origin of travel.  The finer differences between taxis and private hire cars are covered in the later paragraphs.


Table 1 – Differences between buses and taxis/private hire cars




Taxis/Private hire cars


At bus stops only.

At taxi ranks, street or pre-arranged locations.

Destination (route)

Fixed route and stops.

Determined by passenger.


Cheap (Parramatta to Merrylands $1.60).

Expensive (Parramatta to Merrylands $13).



Responds to passenger needs.

Journey time

Slower than private car depending on the number of passengers boarding and alighting. (Parramatta to Merrylands 15 minutes.)

Usually as quick or quicker than private car depending on driver’s knowledge of roads and traffic. (Parramatta to Merrylands typically 7 minutes.)

Use of road space

-     Parramatta LGA has over 830 bus stops.

-     Dedicated bus lanes (including T-ways) provide priority to buses to assist with journey reliability.

-     Significantly contribution to reducing traffic congestion linked to the high vehicle occupancy rate (more efficient use of road space).

-     Parramatta LGA has approximately 10 taxi ranks covering the key centres.

-     Limited use of bus lanes recognising taxis as public transport.

-     Minimal contribution to reducing traffic congestion which is linked to the low vehicle occupancy rate (similar efficient as private car).


Shared, typical capacity of 50 passengers.

Individual or group travel, typical capacity of 4 passengers.

Level of comfort

Seating in public space with possible standing at busy times.

Seating in semi-private space.

Typical frequency of use

Low cost and frequently used everyday for the journey to work.

More expensive travel and infrequently used.  Typical trip is to the airport as it offers direct door-to-door at the passengers preferred time.


4.      Taxis and private hire cars are different as shown in the table below.  The basic difference is that private hire cars are cheaper to operate with a limited opportunity to carry passengers where as taxis are more expensive to operate but have significantly more opportunity to carry passengers.


Table 2 – Differences between taxis and private hire cars




Private hire cars


Public service.

Private service.

Vehicle specification and insurance

Similar to bus industry.

Similar to private car.


Regulated by State Government and to some degree NSW Taxi Council.

Significantly less regulations.


Set by IPART.

Agreed with passenger.

Use of

-     bus lanes

-     bus only lanes

-     taxi exempted taxi banned turns


-     Allowed

-     Prohibited

-     Allowed



-     Allowed

-     Prohibited

-     Prohibited


Passenger pick-up

-     taxi ranks

-     kerb

-     prior booking

-     passenger refusal


-     Allowed

-     Allowed

-     Allowed

-     Prohibited


-     Prohibited

-     Prohibited

-     Allowed (only method)

-     Allowed


-     Limited number

-     Currently value of Sydney license is approximately $400,000

-     Unlimited

-     $6,000 per annum





5.      There are numerous full and part-time taxi zones within the city centre and are located as shown in the table below.


Table 3 – Taxi ranks locations in Parramatta city centre


Rank Location


Primary purpose

Fitzwilliam Street opposite the Interchange


Rail, bus and long distance coach passengers and Westfield shoppers.  Loop bus stops 1 (Darcy St) & 2 (Argyle St).

George Street outside the Parramatta Court House


Visitors to the Justice Precincts, Shoppers.

Philip Street outside the Crowne Plaza


Hotel guests and Eat Street patrons. Loop bus stop 9 (Philip St).

Charles Street corner with George Street


Ferry passengers, serviced apartments guests and local businesses. Loop bus stop 11 (Charles St).

George Street outside The Albion hotel


Albion Hotel and Parramatta Workers Club.

George Street outside The Roxy



Smith Street outside The Collector hotel


Collector hotel.


6.      There is also a taxi zone for set-down only on Church Street corner with Aird Street for shoppers, particularly Westfield shoppers.  In addition, Council’s Traffic & Transport team are in the process of installing an approved new taxi rank on Church Street outside Riverside Theatres.  The primary purpose is the theatre, hotel guests and Loop bus stop 8 (Lennox Bridge).  This rank is programmed to be available from March 2010.


7.      Premier Cabs has indicated to Council that their intended method of operation in Parramatta is to use the four established taxi ranks plus the proposed taxi rank on Church Street to cover the needs of passengers by dispatching a taxi from the nearest taxi.  There is currently an issue with taxis “overranking” at the Fitzwilliam Street taxi rank and creating a queue of taxis that backs up through the intersection and along Wentworth Street.  The new computerised dispatch system aims to address this issue and aid the efficient dispatch and management of taxis to waiting passengers.


8.      The Transport Sub Group of the Parramatta Crime Prevention Partnership (CPP) is developing a proposal to relocate the Fitzwilliam Street taxi rank to the bus area of the Interchange to create a secure taxi rank from early evening to early morning.  The details of scheme are still being discussed including hours of operation and access arrangements.  It is expected that a final scheme will be agreed by mid-2010.


9.      Taxi passengers already benefit from the multiple bus lanes in the city centre and the taxi exemptions from the banned turns as listed below:


Table 4 – Location of bus lanes and banned turns with a taxi exemption



Bus Lane

Banned turn with taxi exemption

Church Street

Northbound from Market Street to Victoria Road


Northbound from Grose Street to Boundary Road


Southbound from James Ruse Drive to By Street


Southbound from Harold Street to Grose Street



Right turn from Church Street to Parkes Street


Right turn from Church Street to Campbell Street

Smith Street

Northbound from Macquarie Street to Philip Street


Northbound from Argyle Street to Darcy Street



Right turn from Smith Street to Darcy Street

Argyle Street

Westbound from Marsden Street to O’Connell Street


Darcy Road


Right turn from Darcy Street to Argyle Street

Marsden Street


Right turn from Marsden Street to Argyle Street


10.    Taxis have historically used O'Connell Street or Marsden Street to access destinations south of Parramatta city centre.  In 2004 a southbound bus only lane was installed on Pitt Street as part of the South West Transit-Way to Liverpool.  Pitt Street has been one-way northbound for several decades.


11.    The request to allow taxis to use the southbound “Bus Only Lane” on Pitt Street was discussed by the Parramatta Traffic Engineering Advisory Group on 8 October 2009.  The RTA has the authority to approve both “Bus Lanes” and “Bus Only Lanes” and it has not been delegated to Council.  The RTA verbally advised Council that it will not approve the request as it would impact on the efficiency of bus (and traffic) operations.  There is a B-signal on Pitt Street at the intersection with the Great Western Highway and it only operates when activated by a bus.


12.    There are two issues with allowing taxis to use Pitt Street southbound.  Firstly, taxis can not activate any B-signal as they have been set-up to detect buses only.  B-signals detectors can be adjusted but they can not distinguish between cars and taxis and are thus open to potential abuse.  One possible solution to overcome this issue is to use individual transponders but they would need to be installed every taxi and therefore the cost would be far is excess of any benefit.


13.    Secondly and more importantly, the number of buses using Pitt Street southbound is relatively very low with T-way buses timetabled every 9 minutes during the peak period.  It is estimated that taxis may wished to use Pitt Street every few minutes especially during peak times.  The impact of more frequent traffic on Pitt Street southbound is that the traffic signals would be activated more frequently resulting in more frequent delays to traffic along the Great Western Highway, especially during the evening peak.  Another important factor in deciding whether to include taxis or not is the vehicle occupancy rate.  Typically a T-way bus carries 25 passengers whereas a taxi would only carry 1 to 2 passengers.  The cost-benefit ratio for delaying traffic on the Great Western Highway every 9 minutes for 25 passengers is significantly higher than 1 to 2 passengers every few minutes.  The same rationale is used when considering bus lanes.


14.    Council’s Traffic & Transport team has discussed various potential traffic improvement schemes with Premier Cabs to improve taxi and private hire car access in and around Parramatta city centre.  The suggested schemes are as follows:


i)       Investigate improving the traffic signals at the intersection of Great Western Highway and Marsden Street and construct an exit lane from Campbell Street to O’Connell Street, potentially for taxis only.  The Campbell Street works would involve extensive road reconstruction to overcome the existing steep gradient across the road.   These investigations are subject to a 2010/11 project bid.


ii)      Investigate the provision of traffic signals at the intersection of Church Street and Lansdowne Street to allow taxis to turn right into Lansdowne Street.  Currently there is a right turn ban with an exemption for buses.  An exemption for taxis is not provided due to the limited visibility for taxi drivers at this location.  Bus drivers sit at a greater height from the road and therefore have better visibility.  A new set of traffic signals would allow taxis to turn right safely and overcome the visibility issue and would ultimately require RTA approval.  A 2010/11 funding bid has not been made.


iii)     Possible future traffic projects:

a.      Investigate an additional southbound lane in O’Connell Street to the intersection with Great Western Highway and is subject to the above project being completed.  The additional lane would be left turn only with an exemption for taxis and include reconstruction of the traffic signals and traffic islands.  The scheme would have a negative impact on traffic on the Great Western Highway.


b.      Investigate a right turn ban from Marsden Street to Great Western Highway and the creation of a dedicated left turn lane on Great Western Highway into Marsden Street.


15.    Council’s Urban Design team are developing a draft Lanes Strategy 2010.  The working draft recommends that in the longer term, the unnamed service lane off the southern side Fitzwilliam Street be extended to connect with the existing lane that circumnavigates the Wentworth Street car park.  This proposed lane extension would allow taxis to travel directly from the rank in Fitzwilliam Street to Parkes Street without making a U-turn.  It will also allow them to set down at the interchange without making a U-turn.  To maximise the benefit for taxis it is suggested that there is an investigation into providing no right turn exemption for taxis from Parkes Street into Wentworth Street.


16.    It is recommended that Council considers allocating future funding to investigate traffic signals for the Lansdowne Street from Church Street intersection and notes other possible future projects to improve the movement of taxis.




17.    A meeting was held with Premier Cabs on 12 February 2010 to discuss the operation of taxis within the city centre.  The issues discussed included a briefing on how taxis operate within the city centre and related traffic issues and also their new computerised dispatch system.  Council’s Traffic & Transport team outlined the possible traffic improvements (as discussed above) to benefit the operation of taxis.  At this meeting Premier Cabs invited Councillors to view their new control room and dispatch centre in Granville.  Premier Cabs indicated that the nearly installed system would result in a more efficient dispatch and movement of taxis throughout the city.


18.    Members of the Access Advisory Committee were contacted individually from 19 February 2010 by email and telephone to seek their views on taxis in Parramatta city centre.  The members of the Committee provided the following comments:




Taxis are an expensive luxury but a necessity for those unable to use public transport.

No comment.

There is a perception of danger when using and accessing the Fitzwilliam Street rank during the evening.

There are plans to relocate the rank to bus area of the interchange from early evening to early morning to increase security and safety for passengers and taxi drivers.

The identification of taxis ranks for passengers could be improved.

The purpose of taxi zone signage is for vehicle drivers.  Council to consider providing taxi rank identification signage for taxi passengers similar to bus stop signage.

The provision of telephones at ranks, either as a public telephone or a service direct communication to a taxi service provider.

Council officers will raise the matter with Telstra and taxi service providers for their consideration.

Problems with accessing taxis after shopping at Westfield, in particular supermarket shopping.


It is prohibited by a Council bylaw, yet convenient, to leave Westfield with a store shopping trolley.

The two supermarkets in Westfield are located on Level 5 which is inconveniently for walk-in shoppers.  The taxi information found on Westfield’s website incorrectly directs customers to Argyle Street.  Council officers will bring this matter to the attention of Westfield.


The Coles supermarket is estimated as 750m away and estimated to take 15 minutes of walking and the use of 2 lifts for a person of reasonable mobility to the Fitzwilliam Street rank.  The route is long and complicated, in particular for those with disability issues and therefore many people simply exit Westfield on Argyle St/Church St and walk to either the interchange or taxi at street level rather than use the new underground extension.

Illegal use of the bus lane on Station Street outside the Commercial Hotel.  All buses turn right but taxis use the bus lane to travel straight ahead and delay buses.


The bus lane outside of the Commercial Hotel is a Bus Lane which allows taxi use however it creates conflict at the intersection with Hassall Street as there is a B-signal.  All buses turn right and any vehicle in the bus lane at the traffic signals delays buses accessing the Interchange.  The issue of Bus Lane with a B-signal was raised with the RTA in 2009 and they responded saying that the lane was marked as a Bus Lane to allow access to the Commercial Hotel.  Council officers will raise the issue of taxis delaying buses with the RTA.

Instances of taxis using bus stops for pick-up and set-up.  Taxis have been noted using the bus stops near the Riverbank Theatres.

There is an approved taxi rank currently being implemented near the Riverbank Theatres.


19.    It is recommended that Council considers allocating future funding to provide signage at taxi ranks, similar to bus stops, for taxi passengers to better indentify the ranks.



David Gray

Senior Project Officer, Transport Planning

22 March 2010