Fears for elderly over plans to hike taxi fares in Shepway
RAISING taxi fares by up to 12.5 per cent and expanding "peak" hours when higher tariffs apply will hit elderly people hard, angry customers have warned.
Under new proposals due to be discussed at a Shepway District Council meeting tonight, the time periods that all local cab firms can charge one and a half times the standard tariff would be expanded.
Currently the higher rate applies from midnight, but this could change to start at 11pm, and last all day on Sundays.
Peak hours at Christmas and New Year would also be expanded, while charges for luggage and extra passengers could also rise.
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The standard rate for the first mile could be increased by 10.5 per cent, from £3.80 to £4.20, while subsequent miles may jump by 12.5 per cent.
The proposals are contained in an SDC report which will be discussed by the licensing committee tonight.
It follows consultation with local taxi firms which revealed that 35 out of the 49 drivers who took part – 71 per cent – supported fare rises.
As the taxi licensing authority, SDC sets the maximum charge levels for all taxi firms in the district. Fares were last reviewed in October 2010.
The report says the proposed increases are designed "to assist the taxi trade financially" to reflect the rising cost of fuel, and were put forward following a request from a member of the trade.
The report also contains an alternative proposal representing a 5.2 per cent increase for the first mile of journeys, with no increase for subsequent miles.
The committee does have the option to retain the existing charging structure, although the report recommends it considers a rise.
The proposals have been criticised by taxi users. Violet Simmons, of Harbour Way, Folkestone, who suffers from osteoporosis and "heavily depends" on taxis to get about, called the hike "unfair".
Folkestone resident Bryan Andrew said he relies on taxis to go to the doctor and that prices were already high enough.
John Arnold, director of Channel Cars, said he supported a price rise due to higher fuel and running costs although David Woods, company secretary of Folkestone Taxis, opposed an increase.