Passengers may complain about the amount of their taxi fare, however many do not take into consideration the amount that it costs for taxi drivers to pay for their taxi insurance, licence, and maintenance of their vehicles. Taxi drivers are also trying to make a living from their fares, which means that passengers that complain that the price is too high often don’t understand that taxi drivers don’t have much option when it comes to lowering it.
This is why there has been an on-going argument between private hire taxi companies in Stoke-on-Trent, as one company has now lowered its minimum fare meaning that taxi drivers from other companies are now struggling to make a living. Ace Private Hire lowered its minimum fare to just £1.50 last year, which has led to their rivals Lucky 7 and Autocab also having to reduce their minimum fare just so that they can still get business.
Discussing the situation, director of Autocab, Asmann Ul-haq said: “We’ve had to change our minimum fare to £1.50, the same as Ace, but our drivers aren’t very happy. They can’t make enough money. But the real problem is the city council issuing too many licences. I’ve heard that they’re getting 100 applications a month, and there isn’t enough work to go round. I’ve worked in the taxi trade since I was a teenager, I was brought up in this city. There aren’t as many pubs and clubs anymore.”
The regional secretary of the National Private Hire Association, Dave Currie has also said that price wars between taxi companies don’t actually help customers due to the fact that they are unsustainable. He said: “We get these price wars from time to time. Their controller tells them they’re reducing their rate, which means the driver is earning less. But it’s only just a matter of time before things return to the status quo. The real problem is that it’s far too easy for people to get a base operator licence. There are no CRB checks, they don’t have to show they have the finance to sustain the base.”
However, Mohammed Amin, the co-founder of Ace Private Hire said that he does not regret his decision. “I don’t think things are unsustainable,” he said, “The other firms have dropped their prices to these levels years ago. We didn’t set up Ace to make money for the owners, but to secure jobs for drivers. It’s better for our customers as well. Our drivers are happy with the way we’re doing things. They may make less money on each job, but whereas before they got 20 jobs a day, now they’re getting 30.”