Preston cabbies call for higher fares to combat soaring fuel prices

Taxi fares in Preston could be set to rise by up to 11 per cent because cabbies are struggling to make ends meet in the face of soaring fuel prices.

By Brian Ellis
Monday, 13th June 2022, 1:53 pm

A trade union representing drivers has urged the city council to raise the maximum tariff black cabs can charge to help combat the cost of living crisis.

The current fares have been in force for more than five years and cabbies say the price of petrol and diesel has rocketed over that period.

"We are having a really difficult time," admitted Zafar Iqbal, branch chairman of the RMT union in the city.

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Taxis queue for customers outside Preston Railway Station.

"Fuel prices have surged considerably since 2017 when we had our last increase.

"All we want is to bring our charges up to a level where we have a fighting chance of doing our job."

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Preston's cab fares are amongst the cheapest in the UK - the city ranks 297th out of 355 local authorities in terms of price.

Cabbies want up to 11 per cent more to combat rocketing fuel prices.

The cost of a typical two-mile journey in a Preston black cab is £5.40 compared to the national average of £6.17, according to research by the magazine Private Hire and Taxi Monthly.

Six of Lancashire's 14 districts charge more - South Ribble is joint top with Blackburn with Darwen at £6.30.

Blackpool charges £6.00, Lancaster £5.80, Ribble Valley £5.30, West Lancashire £5.20 and Chorley £5.10. At £4.40 Pendle is the cheapest in the entire UK.

The RMT union asked for a fares increase in Preston back in December, just a couple of months after the city's private hire firms were allowed to up their prices.

Zafar Iqbal says increases are 'reasonable'

But six months on the matter is only now being debated at the Town Hall - it is on the council's cabinet agenda for next week.

If approved a two-mile journey will go up from £5.40 to £6.00 between 7am and 10pm Monday to Saturday.

It will rise from £6.80 to £7.20 at night-time (a six per cent increase) and from £10.40 to £11.00 over Christmas and New Year (also six per cent more). Night-time rates will begin at 10pm instead of 11pm.

A letter from the RMT to Preston Council says: "The taxi trade is still recovering from the impact of the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, inflation has rapidly increased with, for the taxi trade, the significant increase in fuel costs for diesel and petrol.

"Household costs are also rapidly rising, therefore we feel the time is right for an increase in the tariff."

A council officer report says: "A properly resourced taxi trade with an appropriate tariff would mean that the taxi trade remains economically stable, thereby attracting new drivers into the trade to continue and improve this vital public transport."

Zafar Iqbal added: "Preston is the only authority in Lancashire where there hasn't been an increase over the last five years.

"Some areas of the county have asked for and been given more than what we are asking for here in Preston, sometimes 15 to 20 per cent.

"We wanted to be fair to our customers who are also suffering from the significant rise in the cost of living.

"We don't want to hit them with a massive rise, but we do have to cover our additional costs to make a go of it.

"I think customers understand the situation we’re in.”