Proposals for the Wirral to have the highest taxi fares in the Liverpool City Region are to be reconsidered amid opposition from drivers.
Wirral Council’s regulatory committee approved an increase in taxi tariffs in the borough following representations made by Hackney Carriage drivers and Unite the Union in November. This would lead to an increase in fares as well as a new £5 fee for anyone being dropped off in Liverpool.
The proposals will now be looked at again after drivers and members of the public expressed their concern.
The current day rate is £3.60 for the first 300 yards and 20p for every 207 yards but this would change to an additional 20p every 175 yards – effectively £5.40 per mile.
This would mean it will cost 40p more to travel a single mile and £3.60 more to go 10 miles. However on bank holidays it would actually be cheaper to go five miles or more but on Christmas Day and the New Year, it would cost £9.30 and £47.70 to go one mile and 10 miles respectively.
The new fares would be the highest in the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. During the day, it costs someone £5 to go one mile in Liverpool, £4.70 in Sefton, £4.30 in St Helens, £4.80 in Knowsley, and £4.60 in Ellesmere Port and Neston.
According to documents released ahead of the committee meeting again on 31 January, one objector said, “We are currently losing customers to private hire companies. Uber, Alpha, and more are cheaper. The £5 charge discriminates [against] people who work or live in Liverpool, not to mention those who go there for the nightlife.”
Another said, “I am a Hackney driver on the Wirral for over 40 years and would like to see an amendment to the fare increase, the suggested £5.00 surcharge to Liverpool should be scrapped. Liverpool city centre is nearer to Birkenhead or Wallasey town centres than Ellesmere Port, Chester, even Eastham, Heswall, West Kirby, Bromborough, and you don’t get jobs back to town from those destinations.”
One driver said, “Firstly, I don’t agree with the fare increase at all during the current economic climate. Customers are finding it hard to make ends meet and to add a further burden by increasing taxi fares I feel is unacceptable. The current fair table is more than adequate. Secondly, as a licensed taxi owner/driver I find it unacceptable to charge an extra £5.00 just for going to Liverpool.”
They said there was no recommendation on when the £5 charge should be applied, adding, “Some drivers would be more than happy to charge anytime however I for one wouldn’t be happy to be charged the £5.00 excess and would never let it happen twice and I’m sure no customer would be happy with it.”
Other drivers said they did not feel another price was needed so soon as one was approved in 2022, adding how it could “penalise” wheelchair users and young families.
Another felt it would “kill the Hackney trade” while one objector said they opposed the increase in day fares but did think tariffs at night needed to increase and was in favour of the £5 Liverpool charge.
The increase had been brought in following a request by Unite the Union for changes. Gary Gregory, representing around 85 drivers for Unite, previously said, “in a perfect world” fees wouldn’t increase but cited rises in insurance costs as a contributing factor.
Explaining the new Liverpool charge, he said, “If the traffic’s bad, it can take an hour to get back. We can’t work in Liverpool, we can’t pick anybody else up so that’s been factored in to pay for that lost time.”
He added, “There has to be something because the fares are non-economical, they’re not viable to do. You get £16 for the fare, you take £4 for the tunnel leaves you £12 and you’re working for an hour and a half. That’s not even minimum wage.”