Taxi fares set to increase before Christmas

Queue of Taxis

New licensing policy in North Somerset will see taxi drivers have to complete mandatory safeguarding training. - Credit: Bristol Live

Taxi fares across North Somerset are set to rise before Christmas after an exodus of drivers. 

Private hire rates have already “shot up” and fees charged by Hackney cabs and set by the council are likely to follow suit, the first rise in nine years. 

Under the proposals, after midnight a four-mile journey from Dolphin Square in Weston to St Georges would cost £12.37, up from £10.80. 

It comes amid a 40 per cent drop in the number of drivers nationally compared to before the pandemic, with many operators struggling to fulfil bookings.

Licensing officer Sioux Isherwood told councillors on November 16: “We’re 200 drivers short. When I started we had nearly 1,000, now we’re around 500. 

“Fares have gone up. Unfortunately, it’s an operators’ market. It’s supply and demand. 

“If you need a taxi home at 10pm you’re going to pay £5 more than you did pre-pandemic – because they can. 

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“Hackney cabs are on a meter set by the local authority. For the first time since 2012 they’ve approached us to say they will increase it. 

“That’s just gone through consultation and should be introduced prior to Christmas.” 

Under the proposals, after midnight the cost for the first 250 yards will increase from £3.30 to £4.50 and every 210 yards after that will cost 25p, up from the current rate of 20p. 

The charges will be simplified to extend the day rate from 6am until midnight, starting with a base price of £3.50, a pound more than in 2012, although the rate for every 210 extra yards remains unchanged. 

Every 40 seconds a cabbie is kept waiting will cost 30p, 10p more than under the rate set in 2012, while the cost for soiling a taxi is now £100, an increase of £20. 

The increases equate to about three per cent a year since the last review. 

The new fees are set to be signed off by executive member Councillor Mike Bell next week. 

Ms Isherwood said despite the shortage of drivers the application process will not be any less rigorous.

She added: “They have to be suitable. If I’m going to put my mum in the back of your car, I’m making every check possible before I put my name on that licence.”