Brighton taxi fares set for slight increase, with Uber’s pricing model reportedly to blame

Cab fares look set to rise in Brighton as taxi drivers highlight minicab firm’s pricing model to blame. 

If the increase is approved by Brighton and Hove councillors next week, the minimum cost of hailing a cab on the south coast will rise from £2.80 to £3. Metered fares are also expected to increase slightly by 20p a mile from £2.20 to £2.40.

Taxi driver groups in the area point towards the pricing model used by ride-hailing app Uber, as one of the reasons for the increase. Higher running costs which include fuel, vehicle, insurance and general living costs, also play a factor in what will be the first fare increase for over four years.

In the report handed to Brighton and Hove’s Licensing Committee, driver representatives were keen to highlight their vehicles were maintained to a much higher standard than private hire vehicles in the area. In the report, GMB taxi section representative Andy Peters, said: “Uber often raises the cost of its service by three to four times the standard fare – known as ‘surge pricing’. “It should be emphasised that for many years the whole trade has worked closely with the council to ensure that the trade has a sustainable income to ensure that standards are high. “Eighteen months ago the BBC carried an experiment by ordering both a Brighton and Hove licensed vehicle from one of the main cab companies and an Uber vehicle (licensed area unknown) to go from Queen’s Road, Brighton, to Sussex University. “As Uber was not on its surge pricing mode, both fares came out the same at £13. “While it has been established that Uber is not cheaper than the local companies, the facility to increase the fares by surge pricing on a whim has had the effect of enticing drivers to its platform where they can earn more when it rains and indeed at any other time that Uber considers fit to raise prices. “For example, during Pride 2018 we were informed that Uber was frequently on surge pricing mode where the local trade were working on the council controlled rate. Surge pricing is of course a commercial decision. “The Brighton and Hove council-controlled fares used by both the Hackney and private hire trade quite rightly does not allow for such surge pricing.”

Image: Paul Gillett (Geograph)

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