Testing time for taxis on Margaret River Main Street

Poor signage: Robert Simons at the taxi rank, blocked by private cars.
Poor signage: Robert Simons at the taxi rank, blocked by private cars.

A Margaret River taxi operator is pleading with drivers to avoid using the designated taxi rank on the town's main street.

Robert Simons, owner operator of Taz's Taxis, told the Mail that the two car bays located outside the Sidekick Cafe on Bussell Highway were frequently occupied by private vehicles, which he put down to a lack of driver knowledge.

"In most cases they don't mean to park in a taxi rank, but there's absolutely no way for them to see that it is a taxi rank until they've parked, gotten out of the car and then maybe if they look up, they'll see it."

The bays are not marked with any paint or road markings to indicate the taxi rank status, and two small parking signs face the eastern side of the road.

"It's very hard for anyone driving down the road looking for a park to see those signs, unless they're standing across the road looking directly at them, or if they happen to look up and to the left as they pull in," Mr Simons said.

The frustration is exacerbated on busy days when taxi drivers are forced to find other parking spaces.

Mr Simons said he and his drivers often had to find space in the adjacent carparks or behind shops in Ned Higgins Lane, causing congestion for the surrounding businesses.

"The idea of a taxi rank is so that we can pull in and out quickly, we are easy to find when someone orders a taxi, and we have a designated space that does not disrupt other car parking.

"Unfortunately I have had to arrange to pick people up elsewhere - I usually say meet me out the front of the IGA doors."

The Shire last week revealed a raft of minor parking restrictions in the centre of town, and said revised taxi rank signage would be included in the implementation of those changes.

"Signage will be updated to make it clearer that the bays fronting Sidekick Café are for use by taxis only," Shire Manager Planning and Development Services Matt Cuthbert said.

"When replaced, the signs will be installed on an angle to allow for reading whilst travelling (in a vehicle) north along Bussell Highway.

"The bay will also be line marked with a yellow line and taxi only - within each bay - to make the use of these two bays clear."

Mr Cuthbert said taxi drivers would be able to notify the Shire of vehicles parking in the bays, and that as per the Shire Parking and parking Facilities Amendment Local Law 2016, a $100 modified penalty applies to drivers stopping unlawfully in a taxi zone or bus zone.

Along with the taxi rank changes, the Shire will also introduce minor restrictions in some specific parking bays, which are set to be in place by the beginning of November.

Director Sustainable Development and Infrastructure Services Nick Logan said he believed the minor parking restrictions would enable people better access to critical services.

"Our goal is always to support our local community," Mr Logan said.

"Following community consultation, the decision to restrict parking times has been limited to meet our community's need for ease of access to particular facilities.

"This decision wasn't taken lightly, but after much consideration and community liaison, feedback showed a limited appetite for wider restrictions.

"Currently, this balanced approach is the best way to help Main Street businesses and customers."

Following a survey of locals, the Shire said the community resisted the idea of timed parking in the Main Street, but there was general agreement that in some instances parking restrictions were useful to ease specific challenges.

"Many respondents felt that it didn't reflect the 'laidback vibe' of the town," the Shire said on Friday.

The survey showed support for a 30 minute timed parking restriction between the hours of 6.30am and 6.30pm for one bay fronting both chemists (next to the existing ACROD bays).

Also between the hours of 6.30pm and 6.30am, a maximum parking time of three hours was supported for two bays fronting the newsagency. Council supported testing of the following restrictions for a period of six months:

  • A 24-hour taxi rank fronting Sidekick Café and Margaret River Artisan Store;
  • A peak area taxi zone (Fri & Sat nights 10pm - 2am) fronting Teddi's Big Spoon to Toastface Grillah.

A longer testing period was agreed to support Post Office deliveries, namely the testing of one bay as a mail zone (reserved for mail vehicles only) for a period of 12 months opposite the Post Office on Town View Terrace.