A recent study by Private Hire and Taxi Monthly magazine showed that taxi fares in Falmouth, Truro, Penryn and St Agnes are the sixth highest in the country.
Have you ever been taken back by the prices Falmouth taxi companies charge? I attended a local taxi meeting at The Athenaeum Club in Falmouth to speak to the drivers about why the fare prices have risen. A lot of stories have been released on rising taxi fares – however they are dismissed as “clickbait” by the taxi drivers.
Tom Arrington, managing director of Abacus and Falmouth Taxis was in attendance at the meeting and he emphasised the need for safety: “If you get people just doing it part time for cheap buck they are going to take people the long way round and you are going to get criminals doing it, everything has to be looked at as a safety aspect.
“Do you want someone who has had to pull a 20 hour shift to break even and can’t afford to fix the brakes on his car or get it serviced very often? Everything has to be about public safety and not just about the pocket.”
They do not feel victimised by the press but they feel that this was an easy target for a story when there are valid reasons behind the price inflation.
One key reason is that the drivers need to earn a living wage and Mr Arrington said that only 10% of his drivers meet the minimum wage each week. In Falmouth, taxi driving is a profession and not a part time job meaning drivers have to work long hours to make ends meet.
When asked about Uber and the possible threat it places to the taxi businesses in Falmouth, the drivers seemed very confident in saying no because it would not be worth their while financially. Uber is also using their licensing differently because in Bristol they do not have an operators license however they can legally do the job from anywhere as long as it is booked to a central zone.
One thing that does stick to mind from the meeting, was something said by one of the longest serving taxi drivers: “Taxis are the last thing people will have, they’ll have their bread, they’ll have their butter, they’ll have their jam, they’ll have their papers but if they don’t have another taxi they’ll walk home.”