TAXI drivers say they will strike if bosses at St Albans City Station do not take action on rising permit rates, and the poor location of their rank.
Members of the St Albans Taxi Association claim they are being driven away from trading at the station after “improvements”, by NCP and First Capital Connect, have not worked in their favour.
During a meeting between the rail company bosses and drivers, which was organised by St Albans MP Anne Main, tensions were running high.
The four association members present, who were representing all taxi drivers who trade from the station, said it was unacceptable for their permits to be increased by almost £600 a year.
Following the hike, which came into effect at the beginning of the year, emails have been sent to FCC, which drivers say have been ignored.
Zumfiquar Ahmed, who trades from the station, said: “We have tried on a number of occasions to contact FCC by email but we have heard nothing.
“It has been almost six months now.”
Mr Ahmed told FCC’s David Burns, who is customer services manager, that since their rank has been moved to the side of the station, they are picking up less trade because passengers do not know where they are.
However Mr Burns denied the drivers were tucked away, adding: “We made a major investment in the station, providing you with a new rank and to say it is not fit for purpose is not a valid argument.”
But Mr Ahmed hit back, highlighting that when private taxi firms drop off customers in the lay-by outside the station, they illegally tout trade.
Mrs Main said she wanted the issues to be addressed by the rail company and felt she had to step in to organise the meeting, when drivers were threatening to strike.
She said: “I think there is a problem here, and some sort of misunderstanding, because the taxi drivers are saying the majority are not happy, but David says there is only a small number.
“It is a difficult time for the taxi drivers and I just want this to move forward for them.”
The association agreed to re-send their email, which highlights their concerns, to FCC and Mrs Main said she will organise a questionnaire on permit prices, the rank, and the need for an out of hours shelter, for taxi drivers to answer – with the feedback going back to FCC and NCP.