Falkirk Council told to listen to taxi drivers’ complaints

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Council bosses have been told they must get the views of taxi drivers before raising fares again.

The public transport watchdog has warned if they fail to listen to the trade they could have any increase overturned on appeal.

Traffic Commissioner Joan Aitken reminded Falkirk Council of its role after considering complaints from taxi drivers unhappy the latest hike in fares has not factored in the impact of increased costs they will face when they have to replace their vehicles.

A review of fares was launched by the council in February, but because of a processing error the three per cent price hike did not come into force until September 30.

But in March it also took the decision to start reducing the age limit of a licensed vehicle from six to three years from next April.

And that move, taken without consultation say drivers, will see their running costs soar and led to claims that had they known about the new rules they would have called for a 30 per cent increase in the tariff to help cover the cost of buying a newer car.

Dismissing the appeals, Traffic Commissioner Joan Aitken said: “I cannot alter fares scales without evidence to support such alteration. However, my decision should be viewed as an alert and warning to the council. It must consider the financial implications of this new policy on operators and must call for evidence from operators so that the financial impact of the decision can be assessed in the next taxi fares review. A failure to do so most likely would give very good grounds for an appeal to me in future.”

The commissioner has urged taxi operators to do their own calculations and provide evidence to the council how vehicle replacement costs and how they are financed will have an impact on their operating costs.

Taxi driver John Nicol (46) who wrote to the commissioner said: “The council has said older taxis will have to be phased out. This will have a detrimental effect on the trade in general but definitely within the single operator market where running costs could potentially rise by 30 per cent or more. Our increased costs won’t be covered by this fares increase.”

A council spokesperson confirmed: “We’ll take the commissioner’s comments into account at the next taxi tariff review.”