A SALISBURY taxi business manager says customers "don’t quite care" about increased costs for drivers as fuel prices continue to rise.

Taxi tariffs were last changed by Wiltshire Council in January 2022, but since then the impact of the cost of living crisis, combined with the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, has left drivers feeling under pressure and "worried".

While private hire vehicle prices can be changed, tariff prices are regulated by the government and drivers can only charge a maximum amount.

Geoff Cain, general manager at Value Cars, is concerned about customers trying to “buck the system” or shop around to get cheaper prices but said everyone is in the same boat.

'They don't quite care'

He said: “A lot of customers want the cheapest price, which I get, and when you try to explain to people that driver costs have gone up, they don’t quite care.

“If the cost to clean our taxis went up and we tried to explain it to customers we would be faced with the same situation.”

Tufayel Ahmed, owner of Triple 4 Triple 4, has found the fuel prices to be “really difficult”.

He added: “Running costs have gone up by 15 to 20 percent and we’re worried that if we raise the price customers might not use our service any more.”

Raising costs 'is on the table'

While he is concerned about potential customer drop-off, Tufayel said raising his private hire prices “is on the table”.

Tariff prices can take some time to catch up with rising costs so some of Tufayel’s drivers have had to change how they operate to lower expenses, mainly by avoiding work during rush hour traffic hours.

But it’s not just the cost of living that has hit the taxi industry hard, Geoff said: "I’m not sure how many people realise how damaging the pandemic has been to our industry.”

Wiltshire Council has recently completed a benchmarking exercise to compare hackney carriage fares in Wiltshire with those in neighbouring authorities.

Dr Mark McClelland, cabinet member for transport, said: "This exercise has identified opportunities for assisting the industry and a report, which has yet to be published, has been prepared for the council’s licensing committee.

"The report contains various options to support Wiltshire’s taxi industry, and the committee will consider this report and decide on the best way forward at its next meeting on June 20, 2022.”

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