Row over 18 per cent Stevenage taxi fare hike
A row has broken out among taxi firms in Stevenage over an 18 per cent fare hike which takes affect on Friday.
The rise comes after hackney carriage drivers in the town applied to regulator, Stevenage Borough Council for a change in the tariff earlier this year. There were no objections to the move during a public consultation in February.
The change means a two mile journey in the town will increase from �5.20 to �6.
Paul Barrett, who represents ABC Taxis at the forum of Stevenage taxi firms which negotiated the price rise, said the increase was needed to bring the town’s drivers in line with other authorities in the area and to combat inflation.
“In the last seven years we’ve had a 40p increase, which was just over three years ago. Stevenage is one of the cheapest in Herts at the moment and we have fallen behind. We are still slightly cheaper.
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“When the 40p was implemented we were paying 84p a litre. Now we are paying �1.41 in some garages. That’s the reason the tariff has gone up. If everything goes up the costs have got to be passed on somewhere.
“All that happens is the drivers are working more and more hours which could be a danger to the public.”
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But not all taxi firms in the town are in favour of the move. Stevenage Taxis said it couldn’t come at a worse time for people, and the company would not be putting up its fares.
Manager Tina Turnbull said: “We don’t intend to put our prices up. We think it would be ridiculous when everyone’s feeling the pinch to put fares up 18 per cent. In the past the most it has been is 6 per cent. -
“Our customers are just ordinary people - working families and little old ladies who can’t get their shopping home. We think that it’s unfair.”
She also criticised the council for advertising the figures without “the most important days of the year for the trade” – Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year when the charge is double.
“On Friday the council stood up and said they made a mistake and asked ‘do the trade want them to correct the tariff sheets’. It would then give us and the members of the public to have a second bite of the cherry to oppose the rise.
“It’s not been properly discussed at all. People don’t realise what’s going to hit them. People seem to have an agenda to push this through, and that’s wrong.”
A spokesman for the council said the new tariff will come into effect as planned, but licensing officers were still in talks with the taxi firms. He said if a clarification of the bank holiday rates was requested the authority would go through another period of public consultation.
Elsewhere in Comet country fares remain unchanged for the present.
A spokesman for North Herts District Council said since the last agreement with drivers in November there have been no requests by the trade to review fares. Next Wednesday however, council officers will meet with representatives to discuss issues such as fares and licensing.
In Central Beds, a council spokesman said there had been no application to date to increase fares.
Taxi fares across the area:
Up to 880 yards: �3
Each additional 176 yards: �0.20
Waiting time per minute �0.30
11pm to 6am and 6am to 11pm on bank holidays: +50 per cent
11pm to 6am on bank holidays: +100 per cent
Soiling cab �50
Up to 1500 yards: �3
Each additional 98 yards: �0.10
11.30pm to 6.30am, bank holidays, Sundays: +50 per cent
Christmas and Boxing Day: +100 per cent
Waiting time per 40 seconds: �0.10
Soiling cab: �35
Up to 1340 yards: �3.40
Each additional 85 yards: �0.10
Midnight to 2am, 5.30am to 7am, Sunday, bank holidays, Boxing Day: +50 per cent
2am to 5.30am, Christmas Day: +100 per cent
Waiting time per 20 seconds: �0.10
Soiling cab: �50