Taxi chief slams plan to raise late-night fares

Licensing chiefs are consiering a price hike. Picture: Toby Williams
Licensing chiefs are consiering a price hike. Picture: Toby Williams
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LATE-night taxi price hikes have been labelled a “rip-off tariff” by one of the city’s 
leading taxi chiefs.

Les McVay, who represents over 1200 drivers in his role as secretary of firm City Cabs, believes plans to increase fares will lead to increased “friction” between drivers and passengers and “hurt the city’s nighttime economy”.

Contentious plans to increase the city’s baseline fee from £3 for night-time taxis have been touted by licensing chiefs in an effort to encourage more drivers to work past midnight, particularly at weekends.

The new fares – which would come into force between midnight and 5am – follow a lead set by Glasgow City Council where it is understood drivers charge a baseline fee of £4.60.

Now, in a no-nonsense letter to the Evening News, Mr McVay, who is also chair of the Edinburgh Licensed Taxi Partnership, has outlined his fears. He said: “An additional charge on anyone going out at night is not the best way to resolve this.

“Not only would such a charge penalise those who go for a night out, we in the taxi trade believe it would increase friction between drivers and passengers at a time when this is a large part of the problem itself, with many drivers preferring to avoid the possibility of unfortunate incidents that can occasionally happen at this time of night.”

He added: “The trade would more importantly neither wish to put their safety at risk by individuals having to walk home who are unwilling to pay the extra charge.”

Instead Mr McVay feels the solution lies in the voluntary introduction of CCTV cameras to cut down on incidents ranging from disputes over fares to verbal or physical abuse against drivers.

He said: “The introduction of CCTV cameras will help transform the job of a taxi driver at night, providing protection for drivers and customers alike. I hope that the council will dismiss the rip-off tariff, and the damage it could do to the city centre.”

Tony Kenmuir, of rival city firm Central Taxis, said: “I don’t think raising the fares is a bad idea but I think instead of asking taxi drivers, the public should be consulted on whether they would pay an extra £1.50 to get a taxi at 3am.”

The plan to hike late-night prices was outlined in a council consultation document reviewing the structure of taxi fares.

Councillor Angela Blacklock, vice-convener of the regulatory committee and licensing sub-committee, said: “I’m not sure about CCTV as there are other issues mainly to do with privacy. We are seeking to encourage more taxis in the early hours of the morning and in doing so are looking at what has been successful elsewhere and are consulting on a range of ideas.”

david.oleary@edinburghnews.com

Letters – Page 18