Cabbies threaten Waverley boycott over permits hike
TAXI drivers are threatening to boycott Waverley station after pick-up fees were more than doubled.
The move comes after Network Rail confirmed the daily rate to cabbies collecting fares inside the station would soar from £2.30 to £5.
Condemning the decision, the cab trade said many drivers had already decided against renewing their permits amid claims they were being priced out of the station.
Network Rail, which runs Waverley, said the price hike was justified because permit costs had not been raised for six years, while resources had to be invested to manage the ranks.
The firm plans to remove all private vehicles from the station for “security reasons” before the end of the year.
Transport convener Lesley Hinds said she was “suspicious” about Network Rail’s motives, and claimed the permit hikes could derail talks with the council about where to site the cabbies once they were banned from inside the station.
“Either they want to make more money before that time or they are wishing to discourage taxi drivers from coming in there at all,” she said.
“I think it’s concerning that Network Rail are well aware that we want to have a discussion with them on the proposal to take vehicles out of Waverley station, but they seem to have taken a decision which may well short-circuit that.
“There’s no justification for this level of increase.”
Raymond Davidson, chairman of Edinburgh Taxi Association, said several drivers had already elected to give up their Waverley permit because of the additional expense.
He said: “I think it’s a disgrace. The bottom line is that Network Rail is trying to get as much money out of the taxi drivers as they can before they close it down later this year.
“Drivers will not be allowed to pass this charge on to passengers because it’s a commercial decision. Taxi drivers tried before to pass on the charges from the airport pick-up at the ranks and it was refused.
“Some of the guys have already said to me that they are just going to give the permit up rather than pay the extra.”
Mr Davidson added that he believed retail units would ultimately replace the taxi ranks.
A Network Rail spokesman said: “We have written to taxi providers to confirm that we will be issuing short-term permits to cover July to September while we continue to work to arrange an external rank to replace the one within the station.
“The increase in the cost of permits reflects the fact there has been no price increase since 2006, and also the additional time and resources the station is spending managing the facility.”
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