Agenda item

Taxi Fare Setting

The fares charged to customers using Hackney Carriages (Taxis) are reviewed and set each year. This report provides information to be considered for the setting of fares for the period of 1 April 2024 to 31 March 2025.


[Councillor Bence re-declared his Personal Interest as a member of West Sussex County Council during discussion of this Item]


The Environmental Health Team Manager was invited by the Chair to present the report.  The report provided information to be considered for the annual review and setting of the maximum Hackney Carriages (Taxis) fare that drivers may charge customers for the period 1 April 2024 to 31 March 2025.  He highlighted that officers had tracked diesel prices during the past twelve months and although prices had reduced they still remained at a fairly high level.  Officers had considered the average fuel prices and cost of living, as well as the consultation responses received from the taxi trade and recommended that the proposed fares for 2024/25 be increased, as set out in appendix 2.


The recommendation was proposed by Councillor Blanchard-Cooper and seconded by Councillor Bence.


The Chair then invited members to make comment or ask questions.  During the discussion a member sought clarification as to whether wheelchair users were charged a different fare based on the size of their wheelchair and the need for a larger wheelchair accessible vehicle, as well as the wording of the Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) regarding Disability (people with physical/sensory impairment or mental disability) at Appendix 3 in relation to the word ‘Positive’ impact.  The Chair referred to paragraph 13.1 of the report that stated the charge was for the carriage of the person and not the type of vehicle used.  He added that the wording sought to clarify that a taxi driver would not be able to charge a higher fare if a person required additional space for a wheelchair or for an assistance dog.  The Environmental Health Team Manager explained that the EIA required officers to state if there was a positive or negative impact to ensure that there would not be any discriminatory charges. The Chair suggested that Councillor Worne should contact officers so that she could have an input into future EIAs. 


A member raised concern that only just over half (52%) of the taxi trade respondents were in favour of the proposal with some respondents had stated concerns that an increase would drive down business and was of the opinion that the charges should remain affordable to those people in rural areas who often had no other transport options available.  Reference was made to the fare increases being partly due to current petrol and diesel prices, and therefore, this was an opportunity to influence behaviour by encouraging the use of hybrid and electric vehicles. 


The Environmental Health Team Manager confirmed that there was no requirement for drivers to increase their fees following any fare increase and advised that a number of taxi drivers chose not to recalibrate their meters and keep the fares the same.  He explained that as well as consideration of fuel increases the fee increase had considered other factors, such higher inflation, insurance costs and vehicle repairs.  Therefore a balancing act was required to consider these increased costs as well as ensuring that the price increases did not prohibit customers from being financially able to use a taxi as otherwise the taxi fleet in the District may diminish.  A member asked officers to provide details, outside of the meeting, as to whether the number of taxi drivers and businesses in the District were in decline and the cause of any decline.  Reference was made to a national shortage of taxi drivers and the importance of supporting taxi drivers within the District was raised, as if it became financially unviable for them to operate there would be a shortage of taxis available. 


Responding to a member suggestion that the Council should facilitate the installation of electric vehicle charging points at taxi ranks, another member advised that West Sussex County Council was currently rolling one of the largest on-street electric charging point local council programme in the Country. 


The Environmental Health Team Manager confirmed that it was intended to reinstate a taxi forum once current licensing vacancies had been filled.


            The Committee




That Licensing Committee approve the table of fares as set out in Appendix 2, with effect from 1 April 2024.

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