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THOUSANDS of rail commuters given free cab rides to continue their journey has cost taxpayers an average of $779 a day.
Queensland Rail paid taxi companies $285,000 last year to get commuters to where they needed to go after 2500 trains were cancelled.
The single biggest cab fare paid by Queensland Rail was a $400 trip from Varsity Lakes on the Gold Coast to Brisbane Airport during a major network disruption on October 22.
The figure was up nearly 40 per cent on the previous year, but Queensland Rail say a concerted efficiency drive has slashed the spending on cabs to $77,538 in the first six months of this year.
The trip involved multiple "drop-offs"and was one of about 9500 footed by taxpayers during 2012.
Queensland Rail Customer Services executive manager Martin Ryan said they had reduced expenditure on taxis by more than 20 per cent this year, and he was targeting a further 25 per cent reduction.
"We're reviewing how we apply it so it's not just a hand out," Mr Ryan said.
"It mightn't be as liberal as it has been in previous years but we are going to make sure we still look after our customers."
He said passengers who needed to catch international flights or get to a job interview or medical appointment tended to take priority. The time of the train cancellation was also significant with customer safety taking priority during late night events.
"We do have a policy on how to use taxis that's under review as well," Mr Ryan said.
"We're looking at how it's impacting on our customer satisfaction to say let's hold back and tell customers it's going to take 45-minutes and buses are on their way', and deal with the urgent ones."
Although peak period on-time performance of trains improved in 2012, a series of major disruptions contributed to the big taxi bill.
The single most costly incident was on February 28 when an incorrectly installed wedge clamp failed, bringing down overhead lines and halting train services throughout Brisbane.
More than $33,000 was spent on taxis that day to assist stranded commuters.
Mr Ryan said the majority of train cancellations were beyond Queensland Rail's control involving incidents such as boom gate or bridge strikes, trespassers and self harmers.
"Even when they're out of our control (we have to consider) how do we make sure we're getting our customers satisfied balanced with the fiscal responsibility we need to have as an operator for our state of Queensland," he said.
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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