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Festive taxi fares set to rise in the Highlands


By Iain Ramage

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THERE will be no change to standard daytime taxi fares across the Highlands – though passengers could face higher charges for holiday periods from this November.

At a meeting of the Highland Licensing Committee rival taxi operators collided in a debate over fares.

While representatives of the 150-member Inverness Taxi Alliance (ITA) argued against new tariff proposals drafted by Highland Council the city-based Sneckie Taxis were in favour.

Opposing what he considered "crippling" proposed increases, Duncan Fraser of the 150-member ITA accused Sneckie Taxis of supporting tariff rises to suit "their own business concept," which, he claimed, was "a small part of the trade throughout the Highlands".

Sneckie Taxis directly employs drivers as staff while ITA drivers are hired on a self-employed basis.

Mr Fraser argued that if draft figures in the committee’s agenda papers were agreed, "those from the furthest out areas are going to be the hardest hit".

He highlighted "phenomenal" price rises of "between 20 per cent and 40 per cent" which, he reminded councillors, were way above inflation.

Sneckie Taxis counter-argued that the basic tariff had not been raised for seven years, so the proposed rise "would make it proportional to the rest of Scotland".

The firm’s managing director, Raymond Munro, told councillors he was simply requesting "a reasonable return to cover the costs that we have operating this business".

The committee heard that taxi drivers and firms across the Highlands had been consulted on the changes and in the end it was agreed that there would be no change to the basic tariff for a taxi carrying up to four passengers, with a charge of £4 for the first mile and £1.80 thereafter.

Per mile rates for Good Friday, Easter Monday and May Day, though, are set to rise from £4.70 for the first mile and £1.90 thereafter to £4.70 and £2.30 respectively.

On Christmas Day/ Boxing Day and January 1 and 2 per mile rates will go up from £5.70/ £2.40 to £6/ £2.70.

Two new tariffs have also been introduced for the festive period.

For vehicles carrying up to four passengers between 6pm on Christmas Eve and 6am on Boxing Day and between the same times on Hogmanay and January 2 the charge will be £6.60 for the first mile and £3.60 per mile thereafter.

For larger taxis the charge will be £7.30 for the first mile and £4.50 after that.

These are the maximums drivers will be allowed to charge.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Fraser said: "The committee came to fair conclusions so far as we’re concerned. Drivers are still making a reasonable living.

"Some of them maybe have to work longer hours than we used to, but nothing is easy for anybody in the economic climate at the moment.

"We could have done without the huge rises for the two days at Christmas and New Year but I’m sure the public will understand that there could be discounts on offer on those days.

"This is a balance to meet the public needs but we also had to make sure the rise did not override the wishes of Fort William and Wick, which are less affluent than Inverness."

Mr Munro declined to comment.

The council will formally advise taxi firms of the tariffs, giving them 14 days to appeal.

If there is no appeal, the new charges will take effect on November 19.


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