Glasgow taxi fares to increase to tackle falling passenger numbers

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Credit: Hugo Cheung

Bethany Woodhead
Views Editor

Customers will be facing a 10.2% increase in prices

Glasgow City Council has given the go-ahead to proposals to increase taxi fares in the city by the end of the month, for the second time in a year. Customers will be facing a 10.2% increase in prices in a bid to tackle a falling number of passengers; this follows a decision last March which already saw fares increase by 2.49%.

Dr James Cooper, of Taxi Research Partners, recommended these changes after publishing a report on Glasgow taxi tariffs. Cooper stated that the rise is necessary because of decreasing numbers of black cab passengers and the rising costs of vehicle purchase and maintenance, but that it is a “fine balance” and that there is a potential risk that an increase of this level “is going to create a loss in custom.”

Under these new tariffs, the maximum charge for a journey of 939 yards or less, lasting no more than three minutes, will be £3.30. The cost will rise by 20p for every 167 yards or 34 seconds spent in the taxi. A further 10p will be added for more than two passengers and an additional charge of £1.10 will be implemented between 11pm and 6am.

Speaking with students from the University of Glasgow and the University of Strathclyde, Cooper’s prediction may prove to be true, with one student stating: “Taxi prices are already way out of budget for most students and so an increase is just even more of a deterrent”; while another commented, “I prefer to use private firms because I can book it from an app and pay a set amount straight away.”

The chairman of Glasgow’s licensing committee, Stephen Flynn, who advocated for the changes, described the increase as a way of protecting the taxi trade and increasing drivers’ earnings. Sceptics worry that the steep fare increase will do just the opposite. With app-based firms providing predictions and set prices, and with Glasgow’s Subway offering a means to manoeuvre across the city cheaply and with the avoidance of traffic, Glasgow’s black hacks are struggling to attract customers. In fact, use of the city’s taxi ranks has halved since 2006, as highlighted by Glasgow Taxi boss, Stephen Flynn.

A few years ago, abuse from the public after heavy drinking on Friday and Saturday nights saw many taxi drivers refusing to work. To encourage drivers to work during these times, the council approved an increase in fares between 12am and 6am. However, Calum Anderson, chairman of Glasgow Cab Section at Unite the Union, stated that this is not so much of a problem anymore as: “People don’t go out as much as they used to on a Friday night.” So now the rate will start at £4.40 from 11pm until 6am instead of £5.50 from 12 am until 6 am, in a bid to “encourage more people to use a taxi service late at night rather than a private hire car.”

The decision can be appealed to the traffic commissioner within the next 28-30 days; otherwise, the fares will come into effect by the end of the month.