Monday, 18 December 2017

Drivers warn of taxi fares increase

TAXI drivers in Henley say they are being forced to increase their fares due to rising costs.

TAXI drivers in Henley say they are being forced to increase their fares due to rising costs.

They pay £308 a year to South Oxfordshire District Council for a licence, compared with £72 in April 2010, and each car that is seven years old or older has to have three MOT tests and compliance checks each year at a cost of £210.

The council has also said that every car must have a meter installed by October 1.

Each meter costs up to £350 but the tariffs are set by individual operators which drivers say will disadvantage smaller companies.

Members of the South Oxfordshire Taxi Drivers’ Association met at Henley YMCA on Sunday to discuss raising fares.

Chairman Mohamed Parvaiz said: “The drivers are being forced to put the prices up because they can’t take any more.”

At present the fare from Henley to Reading is about £16. The minimum local fare is £5.

Mr Parvaiz said fares would need to be increased by between 20 and 30 per cent to cover drivers’ costs and this would hit customers hard.

He said: “Between 15 to 20 per cent of all our jobs are driving pensioners around locally and if the minimum price goes up to £6 then that is a lot of money to them.

“We haven’t decided when we are going to put the prices up because at the moment we are fighting the council.”

Mr Parvaiz, who works for 500 Cars in Henley, said drivers were also suffering from the rising cost of fuel.

He said: “The fuel consumption from every job is 20 per cent of the revenue. The average driver is no better off, if working from the rank, than someone getting the minimum wage.

“It is getting to a point that it might work out better to work at a MacDonald’s but they can’t do that because this is the trade they know.”

The association, which has about 100 members, hopes to arrange a meeting with the council’s licensing committee.

In 2011, taxi drivers in Henley threatened to go on strike after the cost of a licence was increased but the council said the rise was needed to cover its cost of issuing them.

Drivers are also objecting to the council’s plans to force them to use two garages in Didcot to test their cars.

The district council says it raised the cost of a licence to cover the cost of issuing one.

Councillor Malcolm Leonard, who chairs the general licensing committee, said: “South Oxfordshire District Council is committed to high standards of public safety for users of licensed vehicles.

“The council has introduced changes to make the pricing of journeys clearer through the use of meters and to improve vehicle standards through rigorous testing at approved centres.

“All these changes have been subject to consultation with the taxi trade and the public.”

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