Taxi costs in Glasgow are set to increase next month – and firms want a further rise after Covid slashed drivers’ income by around £5000 a year.
Minor changes to the fare scales will be made as the city’s licensing chiefs agreed to a 0.84% uplift.
However, the soiling charge — paid, for example, when a passenger is sick in a taxi — is going up from £23.50 to £35.
The changes are being made following a review of the period from February 2020 to February last year. The previous review led to 3.08% increases from March 2021.
Covid-19 left many drivers struggling and the situation has been exacerbated by cost rises, including for vehicles, fuels and maintenance.
Representatives from Glasgow Taxis and Unite’s Glasgow Cab Section called for further tariff changes, with one saying he is “not happy” with 0.84%.
Steven Grant, from Unite, had wanted to see “extras” charges, for more than three passengers, reintroduced to cover the cost of wear and tear to vehicles.
Dr James Cooper, of Taxi Research Partners Ltd, who carried out the review, recommended the 0.84% increase to the time and distance element of the taxi tariff.
This means £3.40 will be the maximum fare for a distance not exceeding 898 yards or time not exceeding two minutes 51 seconds, rather than 904 yards and two minutes 52 seconds.
It will then cost 20p for each additional 157 yards instead of 159.
However, Dr Cooper said “extras” are a “fairly blunt tool” and did not recommend using them in Glasgow.
He added costs had “ramped up significantly” since the conclusion of his analysis and called for a new review, for February 2021 to 2022, to “take account of the significant fluctuations in price”, which the committee agreed to.
“I do wish to express my understanding and sympathy to the trade, it has been a very difficult period of time,” he said.
Dr Cooper reported there was a very slight decline in the number of miles driven by Glasgow’s taxis before June 2018, which was then made worse “largely due to the rise of app-based alternatives”.
When lockdown began, there was a “very steep decline”. He said the average driver earnings had declined from £22,842 to £17,490.
He added the drop in income would be made worse “following this period of review by increases in other costs”.
Grant said he was “not happy” with the 0.84% rise but realised it was for the period ending February 2021.
“It’s quite concerning that we are looking at a review that has got a start date that is two years old. The model we use at the moment is not reactive at all to the pressures that we face in real time.
“Our competitors in private hire have just put their fares up significantly to react to inflationary pressures.”
He called for “extras” to be added at 20p per person after the third person.
“Dundee is 50p per passenger after the first passenger, Edinburgh is 40p per passenger after the third passenger. This is to reflect wear and tear on the vehicle, fuel costs.”
Dr Cooper believes costs for carrying more passengers are better “placed in the fare”.
Robert McLean, from Glasgow Taxis, called for the soiling charge to be raised, which received support from councillors on the committee.
He also suggested the 0.84% rise should be delayed until after the next review due to the costs involved for drivers, who need to get their meter changed.
“That could be up to £52 or thereabouts and that 0.84% would take some time to be recovered.”
Grant added: “I don’t think £23.50 reflects the cost of cleaning out your car, it can take you off the road for hours on end and might actually finish the night if it’s vomit.
“You could lose a whole shift over that because you just can’t get rid of the smell.”