ONE in three taxis and private hire cars in the Capital is failing crucial inspections, new figures reveal.
Pass rates for the vehicle examinations – carried out before taxis can get their licence renewed – have been published for the first time, showing the percentage for both black cabs and private hire cars failing the test varied between 31.4 and 42.2 per cent in the first six months of the year.
The inspections involve tougher checks than a normal MoT.
But Gavin Barrie, leader of the city council’s regulatory committee, said he and his fellow councillors were surprised at just how many taxis did not pass the test.
“A 40 per cent failure rate is quite high,” he said. “The committee was somewhat surprised, but what we have asked for is a further breakdown of what these fails are.
“A fail could be a lightbulb, so we are trying to find out whether these statistics are something we should be concerned about.”
He said he could understand domestic motorists being unaware of faults which led to their cars failing an MoT.
But he said: “These are professional drivers earning a living and the vehicles are licensed. We would hope all licensed vehicles on the road would be in tip-top condition.”
The city council, as licensing authority, has a duty to ensure that taxis and private hire cars are safe, roadworthy and fit for purpose.
Cab boss Tony Kenmuir said Edinburgh taxis had to meet higher standards than most other places in the UK.
He said: “The kind of things they take into account are general cleanliness, so maybe even a little tear in a seat or one of the indicator bulbs not being quite as yellow as it should be.
“Taxis in Edinburgh are mostly doing double shifts, working day and night, racking up very high mileage and with 30 or 40 people getting in and out every day – you can imagine the wear and tear.
“The taxi examination centre looks for you to present the taxi almost as if it had come straight out of the showroom.
“It’s common to get the underside and the engine bay steam-cleaned so you could eat your dinner off it.
“The failure rate reflects the extremely high standards demanded of taxis in Edinburgh rather than anything else.”
He said the average age of an Edinburgh taxi – between three-and-a-half and four years – was younger than anywhere else in the UK.
The inspections at the taxi examination centre in the council’s Murrayburn Road depot used to be carried out by the police, but have now been transferred to the council.
The centre also carries out similar examinations for both West Lothian and Midlothian councils.