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Inverness taxi driver is worried sick as 20mph speed limit costs him a fortune

By Annabelle Gauntlett

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Are the new 20mph limits on many Inverness roads having an impact on city taxi drivers?
Are the new 20mph limits on many Inverness roads having an impact on city taxi drivers?

A taxi driver has raised concerns about the widespread introduction of 20mph speed limits across the Highlands which he fears will see firms losing business.

While taxi meter readings are not directly affected by the speed limit, the driver, with more than a decade’s experience as an Inverness cabbie, says having to drive at slower speeds means he is unable to serve as many passengers in a day as previously.

He also believes slower speeds mean higher fuel consumption which may have to be paid for by raising the per mile cap for fares, potentially putting off customers.

The man, who does not want to be named, said: “When the prices of fuel first went up we couldn’t make a living as the price cap per mile was set at £1.80, so we approached the council and explained that we physically couldn’t make a living and the price was increased to £2.20.

“But now, because of this 20mph speed limit introduction, we will have to approach the council again for this to be increased.”

He continued: “When the price was increased by 40 pence a year ago it was justified by inflation, but now fuel prices are going up again because of the speed issue, so drivers will have to approach the council yet again to match these outgoings.”

And he added: “Whilst this problem is not currently impacting consumers, it will eventually, as the price per mile will go up, meaning that the cost of people’s travel will increase – and that might lose me some business too.”

Dozens of streets and roads across the Highlands have recently seen the introduction of lower 20mph speed limits, in a bid to improve road safety.

North west representative for Bear Scotland – which looks after the country’s trunk roads – Ian Stewart said: “The introduction of 20mph speed limits reflects our ongoing dedication to improving road safety and fostering vibrant, active communities across the north west.”

The Inverness taxi driver, however, is not impressed.

“We are the consumer of these things, so when I saw that it was introduced I thought it was just stupidity,” he said.

“A taxi driver is a ‘time-ticking’ job, so when the speed dropped from 30mph to 20mph, I was expected to be picking up two or three less customers per day.”

He wants to see a proper consultation held with the public to explain the benefits of the 20mph limits, as well as full analysis of the roads where the new speed limits have been applied to see what difference if any it has made to accident rates.

Duncan Fraser from the Inverness Taxi Alliance, which represents cabbies across the city, said: “I think they have gone too far with the speed reduction as I don’t see there being any real need for it at the moment.

“I think that the 20mph speed introduction is good for residential areas, but overall I think it is ridiculous in more major roads.

“I haven’t personally heard any complaints from taxi drivers due to the speed reduction implementation.

“However, I do think there should be a ‘breaking in’ period for drivers to get used to the new speed limits as with these sudden changes it means drivers are less concentrated on the road as they are thinking about the speed changes in all the different areas.”

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