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DRIVER SHORTAGES


The lack of taxi and PHV drivers is now an epidemic throughout the country, as the following examples of news items demonstrate. PHTM predicted that this would happen as a result of the woeful financial support from government during lockdown, resulting in thousands leaving the industry. Unable to survive on paltry wages and with rising expenses, many drivers were lured into delivery work or simply quit or retired. Operators are now finding it almost impossible to recruit drivers in some areas and are calling on councils to explore new ways to attract more people into the trade. Some local authorities are recognising the problem and offering discounts on licence fees and looking into speeding up the process. Meanwhile, to assist our trade in recruiting drivers, PHTM will be launching a new Recruitment page on Facebook detailing on our website advertising vacancies which will hopefully go some way to addressing this dire situation.


DUNDEE TAXI DROUGHT AS DRIVER NUMBERS PLUMMET


Industry bosses say the pandemic has devastated the taxi trade, as Dundee drivers gave up licences due to lack of work during lockdown. It is now thought there could be just half the number of taxis and PHVs operating in the city. Jimmy Marr, who owns a fleet of 60 taxis, said he is finding it almost impossible to recruit drivers. He told The Courier: “I have 60 cars but have only been able to recruit 30 drivers. Drivers have handed their licences in because they can’t afford to be in the business. This is having a serious knock-on effect and leading to a complete drought of taxis available in Dundee. Something needs to be done to help the industry get back on to its feet as commerce starts to recover.” Unite the Union drivers’ representative Chris Elder said: “This has been a devastating year for our taxi drivers with many being forced to give up or go on to Universal Credit.” To make matters worse, the devastating year comes ahead of a proposed low emission zone (LEZ) in Dundee city cen- tre. If this goes ahead next spring, some older petrol and diesel cars will be banned from the city centre. Local authorities have to impose a grace period before enforcement begins with council officers in Dundee recom- mending two years. This means enforcement is likely to begin in spring 2024 but taxi drivers say this is not realistic and are pushing for a three-year extension.


‘CRITICAL’ DROP IN TORBAY TAXI AND PHV DRIVERS


A “critical” drop in the number of taxi and PHV drivers has left Torbay Council concerned about the safety of late night revellers. It said it was short of 50 drivers due to Covid. BBC News reports that the council has launched a scheme offering prospective drivers a discount on applying for a new taxi licence. Councillor Vic Ellery said the cost of applying for a tax licence was being reduced for the first 50 prospective drivers from “somewhere near £600” to £50 and other elements of the application could be spread over a number of years. He said criminal background checks would remain the same. “Our taxis are critical transport to making sure the residents and our visitors are safe, particularly late at night when our taxi drivers come into their own,” he said Mr Ellery added the taxi trade was “absolutely delighted we have started this initiative, they reckon within three [months] we could probably get up to our numbers”. Paul Le Hurray, from Torbay Taxis, said: “Workload has increased substantially now restrictions have been eased and a lot of people are holidaying locally. We’ve got a lot of work but we lack the drivers to do it. “The fee reduction has reduced the cost significantly and will hopefully speed up the process of getting a badge.”


NUMBER OF BOLTON DRIVERS SLASHED AFTER PANDEMIC


Bolton residents have hundreds fewer taxi and private hire vehicles to choose from than they did before the pandemic, figures show. According to The Bolton News, DfT figures show 1,271 hack- neys and PHVs were licensed to operate in Bolton at the end of March, down from 1,740 the year before. David Lawrie, director of the NPHTA, said: “Due to the sheer absence of any financial support for the taxi and private hire industry, many have had to go on to benefits, many have had to find alternative work in order to keep a roof over their heads and feed their families. “They have felt abandoned, unappreciated, unsupported, kicked into the long grass, and forgotten about completely.” He called on the Government to offer more targeted financial support while the trade is “clutching at straws” to keep going.


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PHTM FACEBOOK RECRUITMENT COMING SOON SEPTEMBER 2021


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