TAXI fares in the Highlands could increase later this year after councillors agreed a series of draft proposals which will be put out to public consultation.
It follows discussions with taxi and private hire operators in Inverness, Dingwall, Wick and Fort William who forward varying submissions.
The proposals, agreed by the Highland Licensing Committee, include increasing the daytime initial "flag fall" from £3 to £3.30 with a £2 charge for each additional mile.
The proposal for night-time journeys would see an increase of the flag fall from £3.30 to £4 while additional miles would be charged at £2.50.
Increased tariffs have also been suggested for Christmas and New Year.
But the suggestion of an extra "meet and greet" charge to compensate drivers booked to meet passengers inside Inverness Airport terminal was rejected.
Instead, the committee agreed a proposal that drivers could pass on parking charges to passengers.
Andrew MacDonald, chairman of the 150-member Inverness Taxi Alliance (ITA), was particularly disappointed the meet and greet booking charge had not been supported.
Speaking after the meeting, he explained independent taxi drivers could sometimes be waiting up to an hour for a passenger to disembark and collect their luggage but the airport only allowed 10 minutes free parking.
"If you want to give customers the benefit of a proper service and help them with their luggage, it is impossible to achieve that in less 10 minutes," Mr MacDonald said.
He felt the airport should should look at reinstating a number plate recognition scheme for independent taxi drivers.
In its broader submission to the committee, the ITA said it was looking for an increase in the night tariff as the present mileage rate did not reflect the unsocial working hours and the added safety risks in comparison with daytime working.
It also noted there had been a long overdue increase on the daytime tariff last year to bring it into line with the Scottish average.
But Raymond Munro, of Sneckie Taxis, wanted to see increases in both the daytime and night tariffs.
He said his company was the only one in Inverness which employed drivers and was facing significant increases in running costs due to various forthcoming changes.
"We have a minimum wage increase of five per cent, employer’s pension increase of three per cent, card payment charges which can’t be recovered because of a change in the law, and an insurance increase of about 22 per cent coming up over the next two years," Mr Munro said.
Public feedback is being invited on the draft tariffs to be publicised on Highland Council’s website.
The results will be considered at the licensing committee meeting in August when a final tariff will be agreed.
Any revised fare scales will come into effect in October provided there is no appeal by the trade.