Should taxi fares be increased to help drivers cope with the cost of living crisis?
This is the question Bedford borough residents are set to be asked after Bedford’s Hackney Carriage Association (BHCA) submitted a proposal to increase some Hackney Carriage charges in the borough.
“This is because of the increasing cost of operating Hackney Carriages, particularly fuel, which I’m sure we’re all familiar with,” Lee Phanco, chief officer for assessment application & business support, told yesterday’s General Licensing Committee (Thursday, June 16).
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“It’s been quite some time since the charges were last reviewed,” he added.
In a letter to the council, BHCA secretary, Gurdeep Singh Dosanjh, said the last fare increase was September 2020.
“Fuel prices in September 2020 were diesel 118.9p unleaded 115.9p,” he wrote.
“The prices have increased by 60 per cent, drivers are paying between 180.9p to 190.9p at the pumps,” his letter added.
To date, the council has only set the maximum fare that can be charged by Hackney Carriage drivers. The drivers can charge lower fares if they so wish to do so.
The committee was provided with a table showing the charges at other local authorities for similar journeys.
Councillor Sue Oliver (Labour, Kempston North Ward) asked whether these were also old prices.
Off-camera, Gill Anderson, manager for service applications, replied that the listed local authorities haven’t updated their prices either.
BHCA proposed an increase in the maximum Hackney Carriage fares in the Borough in relation to the initial charge when hiring the vehicle and driver, and also extras (waiting time and soiling charge).
The committee agreed with the proposed revised fares.
The next stage is to publish a public notice. Any objections to the proposed fare increases must be made within 28 days of that notice.
If objections are made, these will be considered by a General Licensing Sub-Committee, and the published fares will either be confirmed or amended.
The council has no power to determine the fares charged by private hire operators.
However, back in October Bedford Today reported that private hire taxi fares were to rise in Bedford as a driver shortage was blamed on the Covid-19 pandemic.