According to an article in todays Age newspaper in Melbourne “Taxi licences have soared in value, jumping from $123,000 in 1989 to $474,390 now.” However this is not an issue unique to Victoria. Across many of Australias major cities obtaining the right to operate a taxi costs something similar to a suburban home. And that is merely the cost of government permission before you even pay for the vehicle and accessorites. This absurd situation has created a whole class of investors that own and trade licences and who have a vested interest in retention of the system. However it all comes at a significant cost to customers in terms of taxi availability. And even though taxi fares are generally regulated the viability of the industry demands that the fares set must accomodate the licensing costs. So consumers get a lower level of availability than they might otherwise and they pay a much higher price. All round the consumer is a big loser. An article last year in the Sydney Morning Herald suggest that in NSW the “cost to the consumer of excessive restrictions on taxi licence numbers is about $800 million per year“.