Fears taxis may boycott Waverley over barriers

The new barriers. Picture: Neil Hanna

The new barriers. Picture: Neil Hanna

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TAXI chaos caused by Waverley’s new security system will lead to cab drivers boycotting the station, a taxi boss has warned.

Cuts in the number of taxis allowed into the Capital’s main station and congestion caused by the anti-terrorism barriers are predicted to cause a taxi drought at the rank inside the station.

Tony Kenmuir, pictured, director of Central Taxis, said drivers paying £1800-a-year for the privilege of servicing the station will decide it is not worth the money and hand back their permits.

He said: “It’s an incredible amount of money people are paying for permits – £5 a day or £1800 a year to go and pick someone up from the rank.

“We’ve always said that if they’re going to restrict traffic at all then they should forget having a rank inside the station, it’s just not viable as it can’t be serviced.

“There’s going to be a big queue and no taxis so people will leave the station and get their taxis from outside – from drivers who haven’t paid for the permits.

“Why on earth would 100 guys give them £1800 when the majority of people are going to be getting taxis from outside? I predict what will happen is people will start to give the permits back and there’ll be even fewer taxis inside the station.”

Taxi permits are being cut from 200 to 100 in a move which rail chiefs say should help tackle congestion problems.

The traffic snarling problems stem from the newly operational anti-terror barriers.

Because of their restrictive nature, long queues of taxis have been forming. We told yesterday how rail chiefs were responding to scenes of chaos by telling passengers to walk to Waverley Bridge to hail cabs.

However Mr Kenmuir said the delays are not just inconvenient and are costing drivers in terms of petrol and lost time – if they were queuing to get in with an empty cab. “While you’re empty and your wheels aren’t turning you’re not making any money,” he said.

He said they had written to customers warning they could not guarantee being able to drop them off or pick them up from inside the station. It advises them their meeting point is now in Market Street, below North Bridge.

Raymond Davidson, secretary of the Edinburgh Taxi Association, agreed cabs would stop driving in if they could pick up the same fares from outside. He said: “If everyone starts walking out to the street entrances then taxi drivers are going to sit there, so why go in?

“The real problem will come next weekend when Six Nations supporters start coming up by train, arriving in their hundreds. There’s going to be major problems. I hope they do away with them for the weekend – that’s certainly what I’d suggest.”

City transport convener Lesley Hinds said the council is designing new taxi ranks for outside the station.

She said: “We were working very productively with Network Rail on plans to make sure access to Waverley station was properly managed once the barriers became operational, but unfortunately their decision to start using the barriers without sufficient advance notice has created a number of otherwise avoidable 
problems.”

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “Whether or not taxi drivers wish to use the new system is a commercial 
decision for them.”