PRICE hikes on late-night taxi fares have been blasted as irresponsible as it could lead to more women walking home when they are “at their most vulnerable”.
Kezia Dugdale, Labour MSP for Edinburgh and the Lothians, criticised the “party tariff” which could see fares start at £4.60, saying it would put women at risk.
Edinburgh’s baseline fee for night-time taxis currently starts at £3. The new fares – which would come into force between midnight and 5am – follow a lead set by Glasgow City Council.
But there are fears the move will result in people shunning a ride home and walking when it is not safe.
Ms Dugdale said: “The consequences would undeniably be fewer women getting in taxis and more women walking home. The chances are they are not going to be doing that with other women.
“We will get more women walking the streets on their own and it will make them vulnerable.
“You shouldn’t have to feel vulnerable walking the streets of the Capital on a Saturday night but that’s the position they would be put in.
“The reality is that Edinburgh is not a safe place to walk at that time of night on your own.”
Her concerns were echoed by anti-street harassment campaign movement Hollaback!, which said a lot of people took taxis out of fear of harassment.
A spokeswoman said: “Here at Hollaback! Edinburgh we hear from a lot of people – mostly women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning people – who always take cabs late at night, out of fear of street harassment and being assaulted.
“If prices for cabs go up members of these communities, and also students, young people and unsalaried, might not see going out as an option at all.
“This said, public transport should be made safer and more reliable. Getting a bus after 11pm often is not a real alternative to a cab since it involves waiting around at dark bus stops by yourself for up to half an hour.”
The latest fare review comes 20 months after taxi prices were previously raised and three years on from the start 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.
The new tariff proposal has been put out to consultation with a decision expected at a later date.