Leader: ‘Perception is that fares are too expensive’

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SOMETIMES calling a spade a spade is exactly what is needed.

Councillor Norman Work’s blunt assessment of the situation was spot on when the city almost ground to a halt three years ago during the harsh winter.

The straight-talking cabbie turned SNP politician struck a chord when he insisted that every resident who was fit and able should clear the snow and ice from the pavement outside their house.

Yesterday, he shot from the hip again – but this time he missed the target completely.

The proposal to hike the starting fare for late-night taxis from £3 to £4.60 has proved highly controversial. Even many cabbies are 
opposed to it.

There are genuine fears that it will put women at risk by discouraging them from catching a taxi home late at night.

Cllr Work appeared to brush those concerns aside when he suggested passengers buy one less drink to cover the extra cost of their fare.

We would all like to persuade many city centre revellers to curb their drinking, but by suggesting people spend less on drink to pay their taxi fare the councillor completely misses the point.

The question we need to ask is whether or not the “party tax”, as it has been called, is fair and right.

And the answer has to be a resounding no.

The real problem is the widespread perception that taxi fares in Edinburgh are too expensive.

A young woman who chooses to walk home rather than catch a cab does not usually do so because she has no money in her purse. It is usually because she thinks the cab fare is poor value and she’d rather spend her cash elsewhere, whether that is on another drink, her lunch the next day or something else 
entirely.

This fare increase will only fuel that perception and that is a bad thing for everyone.