Last Thursday I rang a phone number to book a taxi. It isn’t the normal number. It’s the mobile number of Neil the taxi driver. Neil is a good fellow and many years ago – when I was at the Productivity Commission – I became aware of Neil’s service. He runs a ‘ring’ of taxi drivers who provide such good service that they generate sufficient business from rusted on customers like myself that they run their own show. If the taxi market was deregulated, they’d be able to set up their own company and perhaps charge a little more given the quality of their service. The drivers can all speak good English, the taxis are well cleaned and maintained, quite a few of them are a bit nicer cars with leather seats (a very small relative marginal cost given the $300,000 odd that changes hands for a ‘taxi-plate’ – ie the licence to have a car that is a taxi.) It’s one of the few industries that we haven’t deregulated – and as a result taxi fares are a few dollars each more than they need to be.
Anyway this reminded me that I should send the phone number to a friend who I’d promised to send it to. And that reminded me that I should post it up here so that others can use their great service.
Then I got in one of these taxis and off to the airport I went. Oddly I didn’t get Neil when I rang. That wasn’t so surprising as he’s sometimes busy and they therefore run quite elaborate systems for switching through calls. Anyway I found out why Neil wasn’t answering his phone.
Melbourners might recall the horrible story in the news last week of a nutter who stabbed his girlfriend four times and hightailed it out of town to avoid the cops. While he was driving on a country road at Nar Nar Goon outside of Melbourne he apparently decided to end it all. So he drove into an oncoming car and killed himself. The oncoming car was being driven by Neil’s wife. When I spoke to the driver who drove me, he said that she had arrived at the hospital on Monday and been given a 10% chance of surviving. She seems likely to lose the use of her legs if she survives. She was rated at 20-30% when I spoke to the driver on Thursday. I have not heard since but can’t help thinking that perhaps the doctor who rated her at 20-30% was trying to protect loved ones from a much smaller possibility that they’ll lose her, that she’s already pretty likely to make it through to a long recovery.
Anyway, Neil is a very nice fellow and the driver said his wife was a lovely, self sacrificing person who could never do enough for you, though I’ve never met her. Everyone is pretty shell shocked as you can imagine. I’m not putting up the phone number right now because all the drivers are pitching in and doing Neil’s job for him so I can’t imagine this is the best time to swell demand for their service. I’ll post it when I hear that Neil’s back in action.
But I’m hoping things turn out well. Perhaps some Troppodillian vibes might be sent in Neil’s wife’s direction. I’m certainly thinking of her.