Taxi drivers are bracing for a torrent of abuse from ignorant passengers when a 50-year-old CBD bridge permanently closes to become a busway.
Built in 1969, Victoria Bridge is the only direct connection between Brisbane’s CBD and Southbank entertainment and cultural precinct and suburbs beyond.
The bridge, which crosses the Brisbane River, closes at 8pm on Sunday to become an exclusive busway.
It will force all other vehicles to travel some 2km just to reach the opposite side of the bridge or a few extra kilometres for those heading southeast to up-market Highgate Hill and surrounding suburbs.
Brisbane City Council, which decided to close the bridge, estimates it will add up to 20 minutes travel time during peak hour for motorists wanting to cross the river and five minutes during non-peak periods.
Australia Taxi Industry Association CEO Blair Davies said cabbies were bracing themselves for “friction” with passengers, both local and from interstate, unaware of the closure.
“When governments and other entities start changing a roadway it causes friction,” a diplomatic Mr Davies told NCA NewsWire.
“It becomes very difficult when someone forms an opinion that someone has taken advantage of them … they never get enthusiastic about going a longer way.”
He said cab drivers would inform customers that it could take longer to reach their destination because Victoria Bridge was closed.
“I would think our cabbies will be explaining that to customers, but hopefully the customers already know and will factor time into their trip,” said Mr Davies, who is also Taxi Council Queensland CEO.
Ride share service Uber is not expecting the same push-back. They say their customers are given a price estimate of a trip.
“Riders in Brisbane are able to see the total cost of a trip from their location to a destination prior to hitting request and booking their ride … and also an estimated drop-off time,” an Uber representative said.
BCC said it had closed the bridge to “reduce congestion”, and there was “no prescribed detour” for motorists.
The council had also denied access to the bridge for people with disabilities who relied solely on taxis as a mode of transport, Mr Davies said.
He said anyone who relied on a wheelchair accessible taxi, for instance, for transport would now have to pay more for their journey.
“There are plenty of people with disabilities whose only travel option is a wheelchair accessible taxi … it will hurt the people who most likely can least afford it,” Mr Davies said.
BCC Public and Active Transport chair Ryan Murphy said buses were 100 per cent disability compliant and fitted with a ramp for wheelchair or mobility access.
He said the area was adequately signed and the closure had been four years in the making.
“Taxis and rideshare are not permitted on the busway,” he said.
“This closure was first flagged in 2016 and will make way for the delivery of Brisbane Metro and dedicated bike lanes across Victoria Bridge.”