Politicians to look at doubling minimum Watford cab fare

Taxi passengers in Watford could face a steep rise in the minimum fare under plans to shake up the town’s cab services.

Politicians are set to look at proposals to more than double the lowest fee from £2.20 to £5 as part of a raft of measures aimed at overhauling of the way hackney carriages and private hires operate in Watford.

In a report to Watford Borough Council’s licensing committee, which is due to meet tonight, officers said the proposed rise had broad support from taxi drivers.

However councillors on the committee have been told that if they are inclined to support the increase it would have to come as part of a fares review and the proposal would probably need to go to public consultation before final approval.

The proposed changes to Watford’s taxi service come after a long consultation by the council with drivers and passengers earlier this year.

The main initiative under discussion tonight is whether to cap the number of taxi licences issued.

Among some of the other proposals the council is looking at are bringing in age limits of 13 years and 15 years for cabs as well as introducing refresher training for drivers every six years.

source: http://www.watfordobserver.co.uk/

TAXI fares in Wokingham are to rise by five per cent

TAXI fares in Wokingham are to rise by five per cent.

The increase was agreed at a meeting of Wokingham Borough Council’s licensing and appeals committee last week after a proposed rate hike of 10 per cent was rejected in January.

The new fare will mean that licensed Hackney Carriage rates for taxi rides between 6am and 11pm will rise to £3 for the first 836 yards or 190 seconds and then 20p for each subsequent 167 yards or 38 seconds. The initial £3 rises to £4.50 for journeys between 11pm and 6am.

Prices were frozen in 2011 with the support of Wokingham Taxi Association, which decided not to call for an increase so passengers were not put off using taxis.

However, increased fuel and insurance costs prompted the association’s drivers to ask for a significant rise this year, and at a meeting in January, councillors debated the merits of a 10 per cent rise.

That proposal was rejected and at a meeting on Monday, March 5, the five per cent increase was agreed.

Imran Hussein, an independent owner-driver with Taxis 4 U in Wokingham, welcomed the increase.

He said: “Last year we opted not to have a rate rise because of the credit crunch, but we have no control over our costs.

“In the last two years, fuel costs have gone up by 25-30 per cent and in a single year my insurance went from £800 to £1,200.”

Commenting on the state of the economy, he said: “We are grateful for an increase because across the public sector they are not receiving one.

“We are all in this together and we can’t tie in rate increases to fuel – we would price ourselves out of the market.”

Mr Hussein added that taxi drivers in Wokingham were concerned that too many Hackney Carriage licences were being granted by the council.

“Our biggest battle is trying to restrict the number of licences.

“It is only a wee market town, not like Reading, and on Friday there was nowhere for us to park.

“The station was clogged up and we pay an additional £80 to be able to park there.”

Wokingham is currently ranked in 72nd place in the Private Hire & Taxi Monthly fares league table of 373 licensing areas. A two-mile journey between 6am and 11am that costs £6 now will rise to £6.30 with the fare increase.

http://www.getwokingham.co.uk

200 people object to 45% taxi fare increase in Congleton

MORE than 200 people have objected to controversial plans to increase taxi fares in a town by 45 per cent.
Cheshire East Council wants to see taxi fares in Congleton brought in line with fees implemented throughout the rest of the county.
At the moment, customers in Congleton are charged £2.90 for a one mile trip and £2 for every subsequent mile.
But under the plans residents could face paying £4.20 to travel just one mile, and £2 thereafter, to bring the prices in line with neighbouring Crewe and Nantwich.
The proposals also include a £1.55 increase in fares on Bank Holidays from £4.35 per mile to £5.90, and a reduction in subsequent miles from £3 to £2.60.
And taxi drivers who oppose the plans claim the changes could see more companies going out of business.
Darren Carter, owner of Mytax, set up his own taxi firm just 11 weeks ago.
The 43-year-old, who has been driving for two years, said: “Everybody wants more money, but we also want more customers.
“If the fares are increased, taxi companies throughout the town are going to lose customers.
“People will start making less trips to the shops because they can’t afford the fares, and to a lot of customers taxi’s are a necessity.
“A lot of people are elderly or disabled and the only way they can get out and about is by taxi. It isn’t seen as a luxury any more.”
Darren, of West Heath, Congleton, added: “Already I have noticed people watching the meter, so when I tell them that they are now going to have to start paying over £4 for a two minute ride they will simply just not do it.
“It will devastate not only my business, but the town too because people won’t shop as often and will spend less when they do.”
Cheshire East cabbies introduced a 10 per cent rise in fares in June, and drivers claim such a large increase in such a small space of time could spell the end of their business.
Geoff Cope, aged 65, of Congleton, co-owner of A J Taxis, said: “A lot of us have signed a petition against these changes.
“Trying to implement price increases in an economy like this is commercial suicide.
“It is absolute madness. People have no money and many of us are struggling to make ends meet, and if the fares are increased I am going to have to tell my customers that a trip which used to cost them £2 is now over £3. People will not stand for it and I don’t want to see this happen.”
Cheshire East Council is set to meet to discuss the changes on Monday.
A spokesman for the authority said: “The Licensing Committee is requested to determine whether the variation of fares in Congleton should come into force either with or without modifications.
“Two petitions totalling 201 signatures have been received, and it is evident that although there is an agreement within the objections that harmonisation is a positive step, merging the zones to the Crewe and Nantwich tariff may not be an equitable way to obtain this result.”

http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/

New Forest cabbies seeking fares rise of up to 10%

TAXI fares in the New Forest are set to rise by as much as ten per cent.

District councillors are meeting today to discuss an application from the New Forest Taxi Association, which is citing a sharp increase in the cost of motoring.

Members of the general purposes and licensing committee will be presented with three main options.

They can either vote for no increase in the tariff, a rise of five per cent or a hike of ten per cent.

A report to councillors says many taxi fares in the Forest are above the national average, with customers paying £3.60 for a one-mile journey and £5.80 for a two-mile trip.

Any increase approved by the committee will have to be advertised – and any objections will need to be debated at a future meeting.

The previous increase was granted in September 2010 and implemented two months later.

source: http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/

London 2012: Guildford cabbies withdraw Olympic threat

The Olympic torch will be in Guildford on 20 July before entering London

Taxi drivers in Guildford have withdrawn a threat to stage a protest over fare increases as the Olympic torch passes through the town.

Drivers of licensed taxis wanted fares to rise by 2.7% to bring them in line with London black cab drivers.

The borough council refused, saying the increase was not based on clear and transparent calculations.

Now councillors have agreed to increase fuel surcharges from 50p to £1 per journey and commission a fares audit.

Mark Rostron, secretary of Guildford Hackney Association, said: “We reached a good compromise and we have got our fingers crossed that things are going in the right direction now.

“The price of fuel has gone up tremendously in the last few years, and that is a big cost for taxi drivers.”

Councillor Stephen Mansbridge said the proposal had been worked out after detailed discussions between the taxi trade and the council.

“People will have to pay more for a taxi in Guildford but that is in line with the fact that fuel prices since we started this process almost two years ago have gone up something like 15p per litre for diesel,” he said.

The Olympic torch will be in Guildford on 20 July.

source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-surrey-17301398

Harrogate: No taxi fare increases during 2012

Harrogate Borough Council, who set the maximum charges for taxis in the area, have decided to not apply any increases for the year from April 2012.

During December / January 2012 a survey of hackney carriage drivers was carried out to seek their views on fares. 126 fare review questionnaires were sent out in total with 70 being returned by the cut-off date (a return rate of 55.5%).

26 requested an increase = 37.1%, 6 requested a decrease = 8.6%, 38 requested no change = 54.3%

Representation from Ripon & District Taxi drivers trade group requested a moderate increase of flag fall increase from £3.10 to £3.20 and running mile increase to increase by 4.3% from £1.75 to £1.82

The 4.3% requested was in-line with the increase shown on the hackney carriage cost formulae used by the Borough Council. The cost formulae considers vehicle cost, parts, garage labour, fuel, insurance, cost of living and average weekly earnings.

Harrogate is currently 19th most expensive at 2 miles out of 263 local authorities, but is positioned at number one out of 86 local authorities in the North of England.

In their decision to not apply an increase the Council said:

In view of the Council’s position in the private hire monthly league table, both nationally and regionally, the response to the survey of drivers and proprietors, and the general public interest, the Cabinet Member determined not to apply an increase to the existing fares.

The setting of fares is a statutory duty placed upon the Council and it is the Council’s responsibility to strike a balance between setting a fare that is acceptable to the customer and to the taxi driver.

source: http://www.harrogate-news.co.uk/

Clearer fares bid for Fylde taxi journeys

Clearer fares bid for taxi journeys

COUNCILLORS are bidding to find a way of making taxi fares clearer to local residents.

Fylde Council is concerned although there is a maximum taxi fare set by then, up to five different tariffs are being operated in the borough.

The council’s public protection committee – who first raised the issue last year – had asked officers to investigate whether it was possible for the council tariff to be shown on the meter, and any discounts only applied at the end of the journey.

As it stands, Whitesides taxi company offer two separate fares – both lower than the council maximum – and Premier Fylde charge the council maximum for taxis hired off the stand or flagged down and a separate tariff for journeys booked through the company’s operator.

The situation has led to safety concerns from independent hackney carriage proprietors, who feel they are bearing the brunt of customers confusion and are being accused of overcharging.

But, in a report to go before the committee on Thursday, the council’s officers state it would be “unlawful” to force taxi drivers to only discount at the end of the journey.

Instead, the committee are being asked to consider instructing officers to undertake a consultation exercise, with a view to attaching a condition to the Hackney Carriage Proprietors Licence requiring signage to be displayed in the vehicle clearly indicating the fares charged.

The report to councillors states: “It could be reasonably necessary to condition the Hackney carriages so that fares are clearly displayed and impose a condition requiring the vehicle to display or explain any differences between the different tariffs in use.”

The council has stressed it has no issue with discounted fares, viewing them as “beneficial” to customers and fair competition.

source: http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/

Dundee Councillors decide to leave engine running on up-front taxi fares decision

The city council’s licensing committee has deferred until June a decision on whether taxi drivers should charge fares up front.

Members of the committee unanimously agreed the deferral, despite council solicitor Brian Woodcock pointing out that a compromise deposit system moved by convener Rod Wallace would merely be formalising existing legal policy.

An objection had earlier been heard from Dundee Hackney Association chairman Erik Thoresen, who said he welcomed a police report which showed a fall in the number of taxi frauds from 62 two years ago to 45 in the past year.

He said it would be good for taxi drivers if the council and police issued a statement reminding customers that it is illegal not to pay their fare.

”I have been saying for a long time that it is a matter of choice. Any taxi driver will tell you that you can see undesirables coming and you have the choice whether to take them or not.”

He said charging people up front would result in people going between cars asking what they would charge.

He said one of his regular customers was TV star Lorraine Kelly. He said: ”I’m certainly not going to say to her: ‘Can I have a tenner before we start?”’

Mr Woodcock said the council would not support charging passengers before the journey being made mandatory and suggested introducing the words: ”At the discretion of the driver you may be asked for a deposit” on taxi cards — which are already displayed inside cabs — would be a workable policy.

”It’s just restating what the legal position is already,” he said. ”It just gives the public advance notices that they may be charged a deposit.”

He said he believed Dundee is the first local authority in Scotland to consider going down this route but quoted the reactions by Reading Borourgh Council and Thames Valley Police to similar suggestions as being ”too confrontational”.

Mr Wallace suggested accepting Mr Woodcock’s recommendation and review it in six months to see what, if any, problems had been experienced. Tom Ferguson moved a deferral of six months to gain more information from taxi operators and the police, as he said a large number of taxi frauds go unreported.

He added: ”We need to take care that any action we take doesn’t mean we are regarded as Dundee, City of Dishonesty.”

Mr Wallace agreed and moved the matter be deferred for further information to be brought before the committee in June.

source: http://www.thecourier.co.uk/

Olympics’ black cab fare rise for London blocked

Taxi for Olympics bonus bid

A bid to ramp up black cab fares during the Olympic Games by nearly a quarter, has failed.

City Hall blocked the move by the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA).

London Mayor Boris Johnson branded a ‘major own goal’ for cabbies the suggestion that Londoners and visitors to the Games pay a significantly more to take a taxi during the Olympics.

The prospect of taxi drivers quitting the capital city during the Games triggered the bid, the LTDA claimed.

“This was an idea for TfL to consult on, as a way to encourage drivers not to go away for the Games,” said Richard Massett, of LTDA.

“It has been tuned down, like we thought it would, so it is now up to TfL to make sure there are enough black cabs to cope.

Bonuses for working during the Olympics’, dubbed by critics ‘bungs’, have been secured by London Underground staff and workers on the Docklands Light Railway – from Transport for London (TfL).

“When TfL consulted the taxi trade the vast majority of responses from drivers were also against the increase as they believed it would reflect badly on taxi drivers and discourage custom,” a spokesman said.

The rate black cab charge per-mile in the capital city is set by TfL.

It has approved a 5.3 per cent increase from April in the starting fare – which is the figure seen by a passenger after they hail a cab, before it embarks to a destination.

The Mayor and TfL are convinced that the world famous knowledge that taxi drivers worked so hard to earn will play a key role this summer in transporting Games spectators and visitors around the capital.  This increase will allow them to continue to do so while providing value for money to passengers,” said John Mason, Director of Taxi and Private Hire at Transport for London.

“The annual taxi fare revision considers a large number of factors that make up taxi drivers’ running costs, including vehicle costs, parts, fuel and insurance.  Each year we strive hard to balance affordability with the increasing costs taxi drivers face in providing a unique and world renowned service to the capital.

source; http://www.london24.com/news/

Dundee Police chief raises concerns about up-front taxi fares

Plans by Dundee taxi drivers to charge passengers for their journey  in advance ”may create additional confrontation,” according to the  police.

Members of the city’s taxi industry have been considering the move in a bid to stop ”runners” from leaving cars without paying.

However, a letter from Chief Superintendent Gavin Robertson to Dundee City Council’s licensing committee has suggested that charging passengers up front may be counter-productive.

He also states the number of drivers reporting passengers who do not pay dropped from 62 in 2010 to 45 in 2011.

”This analysis tends to indicate a decrease in this type of crime and does not indicate any particular increase during the festive season,” said Mr Robertson in his letter.

”I would suggest that advance payment may create additional confrontation between taxi drivers and customers — however, I have no research available to support this stance.”

The proposals, backed by some sections of the city’s taxi driving community, have been put forward as drivers look to protect their income in the face of high fuel and vehicle maintenance costs.

Chris Elder, Unite union taxi branch secretary, has previously told The Courier that he believes most passengers would be understanding if asked to pay up front.

The proposal is set to be discussed at a meeting of Dundee City Council’s licensing committee later this week.

source: http://www.thecourier.co.uk/