Taxi and private hire operators in Fife are pushing for a rise in fares amid suggestions the sector is in a “perilous” state.
The proposed increase, which is expected to be rubber-stamped by the region’s regulation and licensing committee on Tuesday, would see the initial yardage reduced from 1,000 yards to 900 yards for both stages one and two – effectively 24 hours a day.
The proposed changes would put the average two-mile journey during the day up by 10p to £6.70, while the night-time rate would rise by 15p to £8.35 for a two-mile jaunt.
That would make Fife one of the most expensive regions in Scotland to hire a cab, with the average tariff one rate – between 6am and 10pm – across the UK currently sitting at £5.92. North of the border, only East Lothian’s two-mile average of £7 is higher.
Five taxi companies or associations provided written representations to Fife Council on the issue, and all advocated a fare increase after fares did not change last year.
William Watson, on behalf of the Glenrothes Taxi Association, insisted that doing nothing this year is “not a viable option”.
“Currently the taxi business in Glenrothes in particular is in a perilous state,” he said.
“Owing to the closure in the last year of Styx nightclub, the upcoming closure of Warout Stadium Social Club, the closing of several shops in the Kingdom Centre and Kitty’s nightclub in Kirkcaldy, it leaves very little trade during the day and certainly less after midnight to be sought.
“There has been a reduction in school contracts available as well as social work contracts, then add in the running costs for maintenance, fuel, minimum wage and a further 10% rise in the cost of a hackney by the council as well as an insurance hike.
“Couple this with the law passed on card payments, whereby no extra charge other than the actual cost of the fare is allowed, and VAT included in the fare price, we now have death by a thousands cuts is happening to the trade.”
In a letter to committee, Sam Green and Peter Meldrum from Magnum Taxis stressed operating taxis is not all about fuel costs, pointing out that wages accounted for around 70% of outgoings.
“This may not be the same for the single owner/driver businesses but for us and many fleet owners it’s the ever increasing motor insurance costs, motor maintenance costs, council licensing costs, but the biggest increase to our businesses are the staff wages,” the letter said.
“As councillors you are continually asking us to improve our standards so it’s up to you to provide us with a reasonable fare structure that will allow us to continue to reinvest in our business.”
The proposed changes, which are likely to come into effect in December, would mean the current flag fares of £3.20 between 6am and 10pm and £3.95 between 10pm and 6am will remain, but it will cost more due to the yardage change – with 20p added on to the fare for each additional 150 yards travelled.
How Fife compares to other areas (for a tariff one two-mile average):
London (Heathrow) – £10.60
London – £7.80
East Lothian – £7.00
Fife – £6.60
Glasgow – £6.50
Edinburgh – £6.35
Angus – £5.70
Dundee City – £5.66
Perth and Kinross – £5.40