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‘FRUSTRATED’: The one word to currently sum up the MOOD of the taxi industry right now

It has been over a year since the last coronavirus pandemic restrictions were dropped in Spring 2022, allowing the taxi sector a chance to re-establish itself in the transport sector.

But how has it faired? And what is the mood within the trade right now?

Taxi drivers across the UK saw an initial spike in demand when they returned back behind the wheel. A mixture of pent up demand and a lack of taxi drivers and vehicles kept the remaining cabbies busy throughout most of 2022.

However, a cost of living crisis was then forced upon most of the world due to the Russian conflict in Ukraine which has seen that buoyant mood stagnate in some regions of the UK.

Rapidly increasing interest rates and inflation has pushed up operating vehicle costs, fuel costs and licensing costs for some cabbies. Many licensing authorities have reviewed Taxi tariff in the wake of inflation, but due to the nature of the review, the drivers are working below inflation levels until the review goes live. Until interest rates and more importantly, inflation, comes under control again, taxi drivers will always be feeling the economic pressure and playing catch up.

In some regions of the UK, the economic struggle is he tightened further by the forced introduction of clean air zones. Most cabbies lost thousands of pounds during the pandemic. In some cases it was tens of thousands depending on their fixed overheads. Deposits for new taxi vehicles were spent on day-to-day running costs throughout the pandemic, leaving little left to make the move to new cleaner vehicles demanded by licensing authorities. This policy forced many drivers to quit.

One final issue facing Hackney Carriage drivers nationwide, is the increased number of private hire vehicle (PHV) drivers entering the market, saturating not only work amongst their peers, but also affecting Hackney Carriage demand. Since restrictions were dropped, most PHV operators set to work recruiting tens of thousands of new PHV drivers into the industry. Licensing authorities like Wolverhampton made it quick and easy to obtain a licence to work anywhere. Economic worries have pushed many on low incomes to find further flexible employment. Working on flexible ride hail platforms alongside their main jobs, fulfils the criteria for extra cash perfectly.

So what’s the one word that encapsulates the mood of an industry? I’d say ‘frustration’. Frustrated at inflation and below inflation tariff rates. Frustration at being pushed to invest heavily at a time when cabbies are still recovering from one of the most turbulent economic crises to hit the industry. Frustrated due to a lack of support.

In one region of the UK I’m not sure ‘frustrated’ cuts it though. For taxi drivers in Glasgow, they simply cannot afford vehicle upgrades for new CAZ requirements and the mood is more like ‘desperation’.


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