Cabbies call on council to increase taxi tariffs to cover soaring cost of living

Cabbies in South Ribble want permission to put up fares claiming running costs have "gone through the roof."

By Brian Ellis
Wednesday, 5th January 2022, 9:26 am

The drivers have written to the district council asking for the set tariff to be increased to take account of a dramatic rise in the cost of living.

Taxi fares, which are fixed by the local authority, have not risen in South Ribble for seven years and the cabbies say they are struggling to make ends meet.

The council's licensing and public safety committee will consider the request at a meeting tonight and are expected to put the idea out to consultation before making a decision.

Taxi drivers say they haven't had a fare increase in seven years.

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A letter to the committee from the South Ribble Taxi Drivers Association asks for a 50p rise in the start-up fee - the standard amount put on the clock before a journey begins - and also increases in waiting charges, soiling charges and the additional cost of carrying non-assistance dogs.

But the SRTDA is not asking for the charge per mile to be increased.

The start-up price is fixed on three levels, with the current Tariff 1 charge (between 6am and midnight) set at £2.20 for the first two tenths of a mile followed by 20p for each tenth after that. Cabbies want that to rise to £2.70 and 20p.

The cost of running a cab is soaring, say drivers.

Tariff 2 (between midnight and 6am, statutory holidays and Bank Holidays, or when carrying five or more passengers) is currently £3.00 and 25p. Drivers want that to go up to £3.50 and 25p.

And Tariff 3 (over Christmas and New Year) is currently £4 and 35p, the taxi association wants that to rise to £4.5 and 35p.

Waiting times are currently 10p every 30 seconds, but cabbies are asking for that to be shortened to 10p for every 20 seconds.

They want soiling charges - where a passenger causes a mess which requires the cab to be valeted - to go up from £40 to £100.

Drivers say they have kept fare rise requests modest despite the rising costs they are facing.

And the the additional charge for carrying a dog - assistance dogs apart - should rise from 60p to £1 per animal.

In its letter to the committee, the SRTDA says its members have faced costly rises in running costs since the last review in 2015, with the price of fuel and second hand vehicles soaring.

The organisation says Covid lockdowns have also had a big impact.

"The last tariff increase was over five years ago. Since then the cost of living has gone through the roof and sadly does not look like slowing down.

"Taxi cost increases this year alone on running cost of vehicles has increased, from parts and labour, insurance, along with the rapid increase in vehicle purchasing costs. The price of fuel has also gone through the roof, having jumped up 20p a litre on average to an eye-watering £1.50-plus.

"The increase we are asking for has taken all of this into account and even though a lot of drivers was asking for a greater increase, the strong argument of the majority has been accepted to make it as less harsh as possible.

"We have taken into account all of the customer base and especially the elderly within the community. However sadly we all have livings to make and families to feed, along with bills to pay.

"We have also noticed a huge reduction in our elderly going shopping, we have put this down to the pandemic families having made other arrangements in getting shopping delivered to the parents homes."

Figures issued by the council show that cabs in South Ribble are mid-table when it comes to charging for a standard two-mile journey compared to other pars of Lancashire.

In South Ribble the journey would cost £5.80, while in Preston a passenger would be charged £6. Most expensive is Blackburn where the journey would cost £6.30. Chorley comes out cheapest at £5.10.