Late-night revellers face paying more for ride home

There will be less change for after-midnight passengers if the new plans are accepted. Picture: Toby Williams
There will be less change for after-midnight passengers if the new plans are accepted. Picture: Toby Williams
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LATE-NIGHT revellers are facing a price hike in city taxis under controversial plans to introduce a new “party tariff” after midnight.

The proposal for the Capital would follow Glasgow’s lead in operating three time-dependent tariffs for black cabs – the highest starts at £4.60.

Edinburgh’s baseline fee for night-time taxis currently begins at £3 but it is not yet known how much it could be raised if the plans are rubber-stamped.

The move – which would come into force between midnight and 5am – was outlined in a council document reviewing the structure of taxi fares and is debating whether to introduce the new tariff throughout the whole week.

But a consultation report hinted that the taxi trade was “unsure” whether the public “would accept” the tariff outwith weekends.

The council paper recommends increasing all fares by 3.6 per cent and argues that “clean-up” fines for customers who soiling taxis should be raised to around £50. The current fine for vomiting passengers is thought to be around £20.

The latest fare review comes 20 months after taxi prices were previously raised and three years on from the introduction of the controversial £1 drop off charge at Edinburgh Airport.

Raymond Davidson, secretary of the Edinburgh Taxi Association, said the catalyst for a more expensive tariff was to encourage more taxi drivers to work past midnight to cater for the “late-night rush hour”, particularly at weekends.

He said: “The reason behind it is to give drivers a bit of an incentive to stay out later and help get revellers home.”

“We don’t yet know how much it could be raised by but I don’t think it would be a huge increase. I suppose if we give it the go-ahead we will look like the bad guys and it’s fair to say that it’s likely young people and students will be affected.”

James McAsh, president of Edinburgh University Students’ Association, said: “I think services like transport that students use should be as cheap as possible and a suggested increase in price is not a good thing for students. But it won’t just be students but a lot of young professionals as well.”

Paul Waterstone, of Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said the price hike could adversely impact on the night-time economy.

He said: “It will hit young people disproportionately and it’s a difficult time for the night-time economy already. I think there’s always a problem with people getting home at night but I’m not sure putting the prices up will make more taxi drivers come out and work.

“At a time when we are trying to get people out into city centres it seems to be a bit strange to consider putting tariffs up.”

The new tariff is still being consulted upon and will be discussed at Friday’s Regulatory Committee hearing at City Chambers.

david.mccann@edinburghnews.com