Falkirk Council: Taxi fare increase will help trade face soaring fuel costs

Taxi fares in the Falkirk Council area are set to rise to help the trade face soaring fuel costs while still reeling from the impact of the pandemic, councillors have agreed.

From midnight on August 31, the “flag fall” tariff – for the first 880 yards or 293.3 seconds – will rise from £2.50 to £3.

The distance charge, which applies beyond the first 880 yards, will also rise. Currently, it is 10p for every 90 yards or a combination of time and distance (£1.96p per mile) but in August it will rise to 20p for every 171 yards or combination of time and distance (£2.07 per mile).

The engagement charge – when a taxi is called out – will also rise from 30p to 50p.

Falkirk Council has agreed to increase taxi fares

A report to Falkirk Council on Thursday gave the results of a consultation with members of the trade and the public, with the majority of responses supportive of the rise.

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One person commenting said: “It is evident that during the pandemic many taxi drivers left the taxi sector in Falkirk. If more taxi drivers continue to leave, this will evidently cause safety concerns for night-time passengers.

“As a result, I respectfully request that the taxi prices be raised as it is getting harder and harder to earn a living wage due to the amount we are spending on fuel.”

But some drivers fear that any price hike would actually drive customers away. One wrote: “I work the Lower Newmarket Street rank in Falkirk and a large proportion of our work is small hires – 20 per cent is a huge hike and the public will not stand for it.

“When the flag fall went from £2 to £2.50 (25 per cent) our short hires got destroyed in one fell swoop and never recovered – another large increase will probably kill off the rest.”

Portfolio holder Councillor Paul Garner said that setting the new rate – which had been suggested by the Taxi Forum – was about getting a balance between the two points of view.

He said: “Though none of us would wish to have to consider tariff increases during the cost of living crisis we feel it is necessary to support the taxi trade.”

He added that the proposed increases were “fair and proportionate” after four years, during which there had been the pandemic which devastated the trade followed by the unprecedented rise in fuel costs.

The changes will not mean Falkirk is among the most expensive for taxis, although the district will move from one of the least expensive to mid-table, compared to other council areas.

Independent councillor Robert Spears said the rise in the cost of fuel needed looked at more carefully overall.

He said: “Transport is going to be a real problem, especially if there is going to be a summer of discontent with more strike action and we need to look at how our constituents can get to their work, can get to the doctor and so on.”

Councillor Laura Murtagh replied that they were very aware of the wider issues around transport and these are being looked at as part of the council’s ongoing anti-poverty work.