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DRIVER SHORTAGES


BARROW CABBIES ‘LEAVING TRADE’ DESPITE RISE IN FIGURES


Taxi drivers in Barrow are said to be leaving the trade in numbers - despite figures showing there are more licence holders than before the pandemic. DfT figures show 245 vehicles were licensed to operate in Barrow at the end of March, up from 221 the year before. According to The Mail, across England, however, the number of licensed vehicles decreased from 298,800 to 251,100 over the year – a fall of 16 per cent. Brian White, 48, is among the drivers in Barrow who have left the trade. He said: “I got Covid and there was no support whatsoever. Loads of people have left taxiing. You can’t live on nothing. People are fed up of living hand to mouth.” A Government spokeswoman said: “The Government has announced several measures to support UK businesses through the pandemic, including the taxi and private hire sector. The majority of taxi drivers are self-employed and can apply to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, and operating companies are eligible for local council grants.”


HC NUMBERS ‘PLUMMETING’ IN SHEFFIELD AS TRADE HIT HARD


Black cab driver and GMB rep, Ibrar Hussain, says the number of hackneys in Sheffield has fallen from 857 to 631. He said: “Black cab numbers are going down fast because drivers are moving over to private hire. Black cabs cost more than £58,000 and no one can afford them after the pandemic. “Another issue is that customers want to pay via card but the majority of cabs don’t have that facility. The trade has been asking the council to review the hackney carriage policy. We want them to allow a mixed fleet of vehicles with saloon cars otherwise the black cab trade will be decimated.” Cllr Douglas Johnson, Executive member for transport, told The Star: “Even before Covid, drivers were giving up black cabs in favour of Uber and, more locally, City Taxis. The demand for taxi ranks has fallen in comparison. “Many drivers now offer card payment facilities and this has helped those drivers competing for trade, as people have used less cash over the pandemic.” But he said black cabs provided a vital service for passen- gers in wheelchairs. “A mixed fleet simply means that not all vehicles are accessible to disabled people in wheelchairs which is a concern for disabled people reliant on taxis”


DOZENS FEWER TAXIS AND PHVS IN TENDRING


Tendring residents have dozens fewer taxis and PHVs available since the pandemic. This is according to the DfT figures which show a loss of 50 hackneys and PHVs from last year. The figures also show there were 4.5 taxis and PHVs for every 1,000 people in England at the end of March – which had fallen from 5.3 in 2020. At 1.8 per 1,000 people, Tendring has a rate much lower than the national average. GMB said the pandemic has had a “huge effect” on driver numbers. Mick Rix, GMB national officer, said: “Many drivers struggled to find work during 2020 and the various lock- downs. It will take some time for the local markets to get back to the levels of use by customers prior to the pandemic.” GMB said its analysis of operators in November 2020 shows drivers were earning just 20% what they were at the same time the year before.


CONCERN AS NUMBER OF TAXIS IN WEST YORKSHIRE DECLINES


West Yorkshire has hundreds fewer taxis and PHVs than before the pandemic. DfT figures show that 11,980 vehicles were licensed at the end of March, down from 13,565 last year. The Telegraph and Argus reports that in Bradford, Better Taxi Action Group also said that as many as “30 to 40 per cent” of cabbies in the city have decided to work in Leeds, creating a shortage of drivers in the district. Asif Shah, Chair of BTAG, added that the shortage of taxi drivers in Bradford will impact “the whole district”. He added that many drivers have “had no choice” but to “find work elsewhere”, due to “lack of demand” during Covid. “There’s been an increase in demand for delivery drivers, so a lot of taxi drivers have switched trades”, he said. “One of the bigger issues in Bradford is that a lot of our drivers are leaving here in droves and flying over to Leeds. “They earn a lot more there. It’s a massive problem. “It’s leading to longer waiting times and higher fares, and it could get even worse. School transport will be affected - if taxis go down it affects a lot of people, as taxis are a lifeline to many. Some firms could shut. “I think the council needs to look at new ways to encourage more people to become taxi drivers and get their licences. “There needs to be a recruitment drive so we can get more people into the trade.”


PHTM FACEBOOK RECRUITMENT COMING SOON SEPTEMBER 2021


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