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Council rejects plea for big taxi fare rise
TAXI fares in Oxford are due to go up.
Cabbies in the city pleaded with city councillors for fares to go up by about 10 per cent.
That was rejected but city councillors accepted the need for fares to go up by a smaller amount.
Now council officers and taxi drivers are thrashing out a deal for a rise, the first in more than three years.
Members of the city council’s general purposes licensing committee refused to accept an application for an increase in fares of about 10 per cent.
The City of Oxford Licensed Taxicab Association (Colta) had asked for the rise – the first in more than three years – to reflect higher living costs, and in particular, higher fuel prices faced by its 107 drivers.
But councillors said the proposed hike was too much.
Labour councillor Anne-Marie Canning said: “I think an increase at this level is too much.
“I would support a smaller increase.
“I want young people to be able to use taxis as a safer way home, particularly young women.”
The original 10 per cent proposed increase would have seen the cost of a five-mile journey before 10pm rise from £9.58 to £10.62, and a 10- mile journey later in the night could go up from £16.08 to £18.02.
Committee chairman Colin Cook, also a Labour councillor, said he understood taxi drivers’ concern, but the proposed rise was too high.
He said: “I appreciate there have been increases in fuel prices which clearly are a major factor in running taxis, so I have to cut a bit of slack, but I think these are too high.”
Lib Dem councillor John Goddard said: “I think they should have an increase, but I don’t think a 10 per cent increase is justified.”
Colta secretary Khalid Sharif said the request was “nothing too extravagant” and said drivers had been asking for more money.
He said: “There have been a few requests coming in over the past 18 months especially in terms of an increase.
“A lot of these drivers have families to support, and this winter costs are going to be going up, and then there’s vehicle maintenance, road tax, etc.”
Taxi driver Sajid Malik, who is also a city councillor, said the rise was badly needed.
He said: “I think the officers and councillors aren’t living in the real world. They should come and see how hard it is to do this job at antisocial hours, what we’re having to put up with.
“Sometimes you end up earning less than the minimum wage sitting at the train station for hours.”
The last fare increase in the city was in January 2009, when diesel cost an average of 98.7p per litre. It now costs about 137.9p per litre.
l ‘Hackney Carriages’ can pick up passengers from taxi ranks and be flagged down in the street. They can also take telephone bookings.
Private Hire Vehicles can only take advance bookings and cannot wait at ranks or take passengers who flag them down.