St Albans taxi fares set to rise after four years

TAXI FARES are set to rise after councillors gave the thumbs up to proposals put forward by the St Albans and Harpenden Taxi Association.

The 10 per cent increase was permitted at a licensing committee meeting last Wednesday, January 12, when councillors agreed that the case put forward by the association was convincing enough to warrant the changes.

Chairman Cllr Chris White said of the decision: “The committee is normally reluctant to make increases and only does so in exceptional circumstances. There has not been an increase in the fares since 2007.

“The committee had a very good look at what is happening in neighbouring areas before we came to our decision and we’re confident that with it we’re protecting the ability of the trade to provide a service.”

The trade group argued that with increasing fuel prices, hikes in insurance and a recent jump in the cost of permits allowing them to pick up passengers from the station, a fare increase was essential.

With day-to-day costs rising, the association said it was one of the first public services to be hit as people tightened their belts and opted to walk or cycle rather than use a taxi.

The move comes just weeks after taxi drivers said they would be forced to take industrial action if fares were not increased because of rising costs elsewhere, particularly after FCC revealed that permits allowing taxis to pick up passengers from St Albans and Harpenden station were to increase from �140 to �155 per quarter.

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That means that drivers face an annual bill of almost �600 per car to collect passengers from outside the station and a spokesperson for the SAHTA, Mohammed Kahn, said it was one of they key reasons they had applied to the council for an increase in fare prices.

Speaking at the time, he said: “Ultimately it’s the customers who suffer when these costs increase.”

Reflecting on the news that fares would increase, Mr Kahn said: “I’m very happy that all the drivers will be able to survive financially.

“I want to thank the committee and the councillors that make up that committee for taking a sympathetic view in giving us what we have asked for.”

Mr Kahn was also grateful to the committee for considering their proposal to use slightly older cars with more miles on the clock, which would ease the financial pressure on drivers.

Previously, all cars had to be less than two years old and have 36,000 miles or less on their clock, as well as a full service history, when drivers registered them for a licence.

The Licensing Team at the council said that this particular criteria had proved very difficult to enforce and the committee agreed that vehicles must now be less than three years old or have done 50,000 miles or less.

Mr Kahn said that this decision would not undermine safety which was the top priority for all drivers when they came to choosing a vehicle.

The hike in fares doesn’t come without compromise though and taxi drivers will no longer charge extra fees for carrying more than two passengers or for carrying unfolded pushchairs, both of which were an additional 30p. The booking charge of �1 remains as does the fouling charge of �40.

The new Hackney Carriage fare tariff will be published in local papers and if there are no objections the fares will come into effect on March 1.