Taxi fares to go up despite public opposition

Wednesday August 31st 2022


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Taxi fares increases of up to 20% have been approved by Midlothian councillors amid fears rising fuel costs could put them out of business.

Midlothian Councillors said new tariffs, which were put out for public consultation over the summer, should go ahead despite two-third of residents who responded opposing the move.

A meeting of the council’s general purposes committee was told responses from people in the trade were overwhelmingly for the raise – the first increase in six years.

And councillors said that while they sympathised with members of the public who did not want to see fares increase, they had to balance that with the need for taxi drivers to afford to work as petrol and diesel prices remain high.

The new tariffs include a festive starting rate of £4.50 and the standard daytime starting rate increasing to £3.

It will also see the charge to customers who are sick in a cab more than double from £20 to a £50 ‘cleaning fee’.

And it includes an additional clause which states “It will be the responsibility of the passenger(s) to meet and charges imposed by an airport for
waiting, setting down and picking up”.

The addition of the airport clause comes as it has been reported Scottish airport drop off fees have doubled over the last three years.

The new tariffs replace current charges which were set up in 2016 and charged a starting point of £2.80 during weekdays and £3.20 at weekends and overnight with a £3.80 daytime charge over Christmas holidays and £4 weekend night time charge during the same period.

The new tariffs will see a weekday starting rate of £3, evening and weekend rates increase to £3.80 and all festive trips given a starting rate of £4.50.

Distance/waiting times will also go up from 20p to 25p during the year and 35p to 40p over the festive period.

During the virtual meeting Councillor Russell Imrie voiced concern about the timing of the increase and asked if it could be delayed six months

He told the meeting: “Taxi drivers have got to earn a living but I am just worried that if the general public are finding it harder and harder every day that we should be doing everything we can to mitigate that.”

However fellow councillors argued that a balance needed to be found and taxi drivers were also in need of immediate help.

Council leader Councillor Kelly Parry said: “If we don’t do something we will lose taxi drivers altogether and it is a lifeline for older residents and those in rural areas who do not have access to a bus service or a car.”

Councillors unanimously agreed to approve the increase in taxi fares with a pledge to review the situation in six months time.

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