Taxi firms oppose late-night ‘party tariffs’

The higher fares would be in operation between midnight and 5am. Picture: Cate Gillon
The higher fares would be in operation between midnight and 5am. Picture: Cate Gillon
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TAXI firms are opposing plans for higher fares at peak times on Friday and Saturday nights, warning it could deter people from taking a cab to make sure they get home safely.

Council chiefs have floated the idea of charging up to £2 extra for journeys between midnight and 5am in an effort to encourage more drivers to work past the witching hour.

But taxi bosses say there is no need for the proposed “party tariff”.

Trade representatives met at the City Chambers as part of a council review of fares at peak times and holidays and made their views clear.

Central Taxis, City Cabs, Comcab and the Edinburgh Taxi Association, representing independent drivers, were unanimous in rejecting a suggestion that fares should be increased after midnight at weekends.

Les McVay, director of City Cabs, said: “There’s no shortage of taxis out at night and the town isn’t as busy as it has been in the past.

“We don’t want to discourage people from getting out on the town and then home safely in a black taxi at night.”

The trade also recommended that the usual holiday increases at Christmas and New Year should be simplified and even reduced.

Mr McVay said: “We don’t want to put people off travelling safely in a taxi during the holidays because they may believe that the fares have greatly increased.”

Tony Kenmuir, director of Central Taxis, echoed his point. He said: “Most workers would expect to receive double time or more for working the likes of Hogmanay and actually our meter rates only increase on average by a little over 50 per cent during the holidays, which is a lot less than people might think.

“However, if we can encourage more people to get out and about over the holidays it’s good for the taxi trade, good for the public and good for businesses all over in the city.

“We’re very pleased to unite with the other black taxi firms in Edinburgh and recommend to the council that the holiday tariff should be simplified and reduce the rate at peak times.”

The party tariff was first suggested a year ago, but shelved for further discussion after complaints the move would penalise women in particular, when they are often encouraged to take a taxi home for safety.

Lothian Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale said: “Women have the right to feel safe and if that means choosing to get a taxi home, they should not have to pay a high price for it.”

Consultants are now taking soundings about the idea and studying the experience of other cities throughout the UK which already operate such a scheme.

One example cited is a £2 flat rate surcharge imposed for late-night taxi journeys in Glasgow.

A report on the proposals is expected to be submitted to councillors in four months.

A council spokesman said: “Taxi fare structures are reviewed regularly.

“Consultations are under way with members of the taxi trade about several proposals including the introduction of a late-night tariff.

“A report on their recommendations is due to be heard by the council’s regulatory committee in November.”