TAXI bosses have defended a planned rise in fares after council chiefs revealed proposals to increase prices.
Hartlepool Borough Council’s licensing committee has approved a request from the town’s hackney carriage trade for an increase of 20p on all journeys.
Only hackney carriages, which in Hartlepool are yellow and can be flagged down or be found at designated ranks, will be affected by the change, and private hire vehicles, which must be pre-booked, will continue on their current tariffs.
The council says the planned move follows a request from the taxi trade, with companies saying there has not been a general rise in fares since 2008 and that even with a 20p rise Hartlepool would remain the third cheapest taxi fares in the country.
Kevin Egan, fleet manager of Streamline taxis, which has 80 hackney carriages, said: “This basically means there is going to be 20p extra on a journey - when the driver puts the meter on at the moment, it starts at £2, but it’s going to be £2.20.
“It’s the same measured mile - there is no extra money per mile.”
He said rises in petrol and diesel prices, repairs and servicing costs were among the reasons for the increase and added: “I think it’s fair, the customer is still getting a good deal, when you start taking the costs of fares in towns like Middlesbrough, Stockton and Newcastle into consideration - all those have higher fares, I think some of them are £2.80 as soon as you get in.”
Self-employed hackney carriage owner/driver Stephen Picton said: “The price of our insurance is going through the roof and we’ve also got the price of fuel going up and down, so it’s justified.
“Our net profits are going down and we are not taking that much home.
“I think 20p isn’t a massive increase, and I don’t think too many people will feel it.
“Everything else has gone up but our taxi fares.”
Ian Harrison, the council’s principal Trading Standards and licensing officer, said: “No-one likes price increases but the council must reflect a balance between allowing licensed taxi drivers to generate a reasonable level of income whilst recognising the pressures on household budgets.
“Taxi drivers provide a valuable service to the town and with Hartlepool remaining the third cheapest in the country, they continue to represent good value for money.”
The proposed increase will be advertised and if there are no objections it will take effect on June 11.
Hackney carriages are required to use a meter to calculate the fare for all journeys in Hartlepool and the level of fare is set by the council.