Taxi drivers in Kirkcaldy will need to be patient for an upturn in trade following the closure of the town’s Tesco supermarket, a leading industry figure has said.
Harry Bell, chairman of the Kirkcaldy Taxi Owners’ Association, has praised Fife Council for creating new ranks in the town but said that drivers would notice a difference in passenger numbers while the public learned of the change.
The impact on the taxi industry was one of the main concerns in the wake of Tesco’s decision to quit the town.
With the store closing last Saturday, Mr Bell said there had already been a noticeable downturn in business, but said that new ranks created by the local authority would ease the slump.
Asked how busy drivers had been since Tesco’s closure, he said: “Very quiet.
“I spoke to the association secretary yesterday and he said that it was not very busy.
“It was a holiday week as well, which hasn’t helped but we have new ranks in place which the drivers have been using with limited success.”
Mr Bell previously estimated the Tesco closure would cost the town’s economy in the region of £1.5 million from the taxi industry alone.
With the town’s main rank located next to the now closed superstore, Mr Bell also fears that 40 to 50 drivers could lose their jobs because of the expected downturn in custom.
Politicians have offered their support to drivers, with Fife Council having fast-tracked the creation of several new ranks near other town supermarkets.
These have been established at Ferrard Road, Seafield Road and Cromarty Place, while a meeting is expected to take place with NHS Fife over the possibility of a rank being created at Victoria Hospital.
There are also hopes that additional pick-up spots can be put in place at the leisure centre and on the High Street.
However, in the immediate future, Mr Bell said that drivers would have to play a waiting game until the full impact of the Tesco closure became clear.
“Drivers will have to show patience while the public learn about the new ranks,” he added.