Saturday, 11 April 2020

Conversations with taxi drivers: Sixteen

This is the sixteenth in a series of posts relaying conversations I have had with taxi drivers. The first of these posts appeared on 6 June 2018. 

7 February

Caught a cab from home to Newtown and the driver was named Shahadat. He wore a white taqiyah on his head and we talked about how drivers have no patience in Sydney. (In Melbourne, he mused, drivers are not so impatient.) He told me about an accident he was in one day when a bus drove into the back of his car. It happened near where we were heading, off Broadway, and the bus belonged to a private college. It was a big bus and he showed me a photo of a similar vehicle on his phone, which sat mounted near the dashboard.

The accident had happened during the day and he had asked to see the driver’s license. The driver said he had left his license back at the school. Later, my driver had gone to that place and the people there showed him the license of a different driver. The driver who had hit him, he surmised, hadn’t been licensed. We talked about how it’s illegal in New South Wales to drive without carrying a valid license.

He mentioned a family that had been in the news recently, with three children who were killed in Parramatta by a drunk driver. A cousin of the children had also been killed. I remembered the case and told him so. I said my uncle had been killed, as a boy, by a drunk driver. It was something that had, I went on, destroyed his family. Shahadat dropped me off on King Street when I paid using EFTPOS.

After I watched a movie I came out with my friend and left him, getting into a cab, one I hailed from the kerb. The driver was also born outside Australia and we went down Missenden Road at my suggestion, heading to my home. I told him how one night I had been unable to get a cab on Missenden Road at 1.30am and he displayed surprise, saying that he personally won’t refuse fares unless they’re young men and look like they might not pay.

Then we talked about hybrid electric vehicles. I asked him how much the rent for his car was and he said $1100 a week. Plus $400 a week for petrol, he added. The battery in his Camry is not new, he said, so it cuts out every ten minutes and power is then drawn from the car’s internal combustion engine instead. He told me – when I mentioned I was buying a hybrid Toyota – that their traction batteries last 100,000 kilometres and then need to be replaced although, he added, rather than the replacement of the whole unit with newer models individual battery cells can be changed out. A new traction battery costs around $6000.

He asked me what kind of car I drive now and I said an Aurion. He said that because it had been made in Australia, it would last forever. I took this piece of hyperbole with a grain of salt but mentioned that I get the car serviced every year. He asked me how much fuel I buy for it and I said about $50 every two weeks. He said with that kind of usage a hybrid RAV4 battery should last ten years.

I told him that demand for hybrid Toyotas was so high the new car wouldn’t be delivered until April. He asked about Camry hybrids and I told him that initially, in December, I had ordered a Camry and the dealer had told me that it could be delivered by March. Then I had changed my plans and had ordered an SUV instead because my daughter was coming to live in Sydney and, I told the driver, I would need a vehicle to move large things around in. He asked me where she was coming from and I told him it was from Japan.

RAV4s, he said, were used for cabs sometimes and he asked me how much mine would cost. I told him it would be about $50,000 and he said the ones used for cabs cost around $35,000. He asked me which model I was getting but he didn’t seem to know much about the range available from Toyota dealerships.

When, in March, I contacted the Toyota salesman I found that delivery would be delayed, possibly until June. It seemed that the novel coronavirus had stuffed up the supply chain for new cars coming from Japan.

1 comment:

marcellous said...


If the novel coronavirus has also "stuffed up the delivery chain" for daughters (well one daughter in particular) coming from Japan then it should all even out.

Just trying to find a silver lining here.

Keep well.