Glasgow City Council’s licensing committee has approved plans to allow taxi operators to increase their fares. Under these plans, black cab operators will be allowed to increase their initial fares by ten per cent, from £3 to £3.30. In addition to this, firms will be allowed to increase existing charges contingent on distance travelled and time spent within the cab.
The Council’s decision was prompted by an independent report overseen by Taxi Research Partner’s Dr James Cooper. Cooper’s report highlighted a sharp decline in demand for traditional black cabs, which has reportedly fallen by fifty per cent in Glasgow since 2006. According to the report, this factor in combination with others such as rising vehicle maintenance costs has significantly affected the financial viability of the industry.
It has been suggested that one of the main reasons for the falling popularity of traditional black cabs is the increasing prevalence of apps such as Uber and Gett. Companies such as these typically undercut the prices offered by traditional taxi operators making it increasingly hard for them to compete.
Stephen Flynn, the chairman of Glasgow Taxis, has made it clear that such competition is a major challenge to the industry. Commenting on the plans put forward in Dr Cooper’s report, Flynn said:
“What we’ve found in the last three or four years with the app-based firms, people are moving away from using taxis. We supplied marshals at Central Station when they were finishing at 5.30 am. They are now finishing at 3.30 am. Footfall has dropped 50% since 2006 through the ranks.
"I’m happy with the changes and I think we really needed to go with Dr Cooper’s recommendations.”
While traditional taxi operators and the council are in agreement in their support for the current plan, it is clear that there will be consequences for the industry. In an industry already plagued by cheap competition, it is feared that increased fares will drive demand even further down.
Addressing these concerns, Dr Cooper conceded, “there is a very fine balance and I want to highlight that this is a very large increase. There is a very real potential that an increase is going to create a loss in custom.”