EDINBURGH taxi passengers are hit with evening tariffs earlier than anywhere else in the UK, according to a new report.
The city has a steeper rate that kicks in at 6pm – hours earlier than similar-sized cities across the UK.
It cashes in on people who want to use taxis socially during the evening, holidaymakers and people visiting loved ones in hospital.
Taxi meters in the Capital add an extra pound to evening fares, which start at £2 during weekdays. The upper-rate tariff, which takes affect five hours earlier than in Glasgow, runs throughout the night until 6am the following morning and every hour during the weekend.
Incredibly, city chiefs are considering slapping a further hike on the charges for late-night weekend cab trips, which has been dubbed the “party tariff”.
But the council-commissioned report – which shows extra revenue is already being earned from early in the evenings and at the weekends – adds fuel to the debate for ditching the proposed witching hour increase from £3 to £4.60.
Glasgow currently operates a similar tariff from 12.30am on Saturdays and Sundays, which starts at £4.80.
But the proposal has stoked controversy amid fears that higher fares could lead to more women walking home when they are “at their most vulnerable”.
Raymond Davidson, secretary of the Edinburgh Taxi Association, said the 6pm higher tariff rate could be reviewed and said there was little appetite for a “party tariff” among cabbies themselves.
He added that drivers agreed the higher tariff weekday rate comes in too early.
He said: “It was mentioned to me at a conference by a delegate from England who looked at the unsociable hours rate and said ‘You are very early with that’. It’s been this way for about ten years or so.
“I think it maybe needs to be looked at and perhaps brought up to date.
“6pm is not an unsociable hour any more but being a taxi driver is very expensive and the running costs are dear.”
Comparing Edinburgh with other similar cities, the council-commissioned report compiled by the Halcrow Group showed the Capital’s taxi prices could be “classed as average” – althought it is more expensive than Glasgow.
Councillor Gavin Barrie, convener of the regulatory committee, said: “A review of the taxi fare structure has been carried out by independent consultants and their recommendations were considered by the committee.
“The committee decided that some of the proposals, such as introducing a separate late-night tariff, should be looked at in more detail and further consultation should take place before any decisions are made.”
Simon Hill, 44, Tollcross: “I wasn’t aware that the tariffs kick in earlier here than in other cities and that certainly doesn’t seem fair to me.”
Caroline McHutchinson, 26, Royal Mile: “People say the taxis here are expensive but, trust me, it’s nothing compared to what you’ll pay in Perth, where I’m from originally.”
Christina Mesa, 25, Holyrood: “I heard they were really expensive before I moved here, but they’re actually not as bad as London and other cities in Europe.”
Robert Farquhar, 49, Prestonfield: “Yes, I do think they are quite a bit more expensive than in Glasgow. In fact, they’re probably the most expensive city outside London.”