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.