Council and cab trade clash over new fare increases

Costs are biting, says George Pendreigh
Costs are biting, says George Pendreigh
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TAXI fares in Edinburgh are set to rise after a three year freeze, sparking a battle between the trade and the city council.

A major decision on fares will be taken by councillors on the regulatory committee next week for the first time since 2008.

Ahead of the decision the Edinburgh Licensed Taxi Partnership commissioned Napier University to study the trade and found costs had risen by 10.5 per cent.

However, rather than asking the council to match that, they have proposed a lower 8.4 per cent rise - on the condition that councillors allow the airport pick-up charge for arrivals to be increased from 80p to £2.

Now council officers have told the committee to accept the 8.4 per cent figure but refuse the airport charge rise, which the trade says has landed them with the worst possible deal.

Taxi trade insiders have accused the council of “cherry-picking” the lower figure, in the knowledge that the trade may well have won a higher fare rate if it had pursued it.

Les McVey, chair of the ELTP, urged councillors to either back the £2 charge or allow a bigger increase, and said to allow neither would lead to standards dropping.

“Council officers are denying reality by refusing to fully acknowledge the impact of the airport pick-up fees,” he said.

“The recommendations made by officers will result in a very substantial real-terms reduction in our drivers’ income. Standards will slip if these proposals go through.”

Cabbies are charged £2.10 per pick up by the airport for arrivals passengers and cannot recover the costs, but are allowed an 80p starting charge. This is separate to the £1 to drop-off departures passengers.

Alastair Maclean, director of corporate governance at the council, said the airport charge should be refused because the £2.10 charged by BAA Edinburgh was more a commercial arrangement between the airport and some taxi operators, than a genuine ‘cost’ faced by operators”.

George Pendreigh, 53, who has worked as a black cab driver since 1982 and has campaigned against airport tariffs, said: “If you look at fares in East Lothian they’re far higher than in Edinburgh, and have risen along with costs.

“Here, we’ve picked up fuel and services costs ourselves, and we take far less home than we used to, without any increases in fares.”

Councillor Rob Munn, convener of the regulatory committee, said: “The committee will consider these officer recommendations carefully.”

SAME DISTANCE, HIGH PRICE

Estimated fares if 8.4 per cent rise is approved by councillors on the regulatory committee on Wednesday:

• Waverley Station to Edinburgh Airport – £20.60, up from £19

• Waverley Station to Victoria Quay – £10.85, up from £10

• Waverley Station to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary – £13, up from £12

• Waverley Station to Edinburgh Park/Gyle – £14.10, up from £13