‘Outrageous’ taxi fare hike set to go ahead
A FORT WILLIAM taxi driver has said he is ‘disappointed’ with the traffic commissioners decision to not proceed with a fares appeal, writes Ellie Forbes.
Nairn McArthur branded a proposed 28 per cent increase in fares a ‘disgrace’ earlier this year, and lodged an appeal with the traffic commissioner.
The Highland Council is due to increase the price mile for tariff one – Monday to Friday during the day – from £1.40 to £1.80.
Tariff two, which operates between 9pm and 7am at the weekend and when five or more passengers are carried at any time of the day, and tariff three, which is used on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, January 1 and 2 and when five or more passengers are carried at anytime of the day on a Saturday and Sunday, will remain unchanged.
The appeal, which was signed by Mr McArthur and 25 others, stated that the council’s changes were ‘ill- conceived and badly thought out’ and that a 28 per cent increase would be ‘an intolerable burden on local customers and visitors’.
But in a letter to the commissioner, the council stated the valid signatures on the appeal represented less than five per cent of the operators in the Highland Council area.
Traffic Commissioner Joan Aitken declined to take the appeal any further.
‘They are 21 persons out of 453 operators in the Highland Council area. It would be stretching definitions to find them representative of a substantial proportion of operators,’ she said.
‘I am very familiar with the varying economic circumstances of different parts of the Highland Council’s area and that many in Lochaber have lower incomes than a great many in Inverness.
‘Thus, I can understand the essential appeal point made by Mr McArthur and his co- signatories which is that the maximum charges for a taxi will be beyond the purse of many in Lochaber or be a harder spending choice.’
But Miss Aitken noted that none of those who signed the appeal attended the council licensing committee meetings on December 6, 2016 or February 7, 2017 to make representations.
She said they also did not make any written or oral responses to the council’s consultations, other than the pre- consultation meeting at Fort William on September 21, 2016 when three asked for no change. Mr McArthur told the Lo
chaber Times: ‘It’s outrageous - a 28 per cent increase in anything these days is bad.
‘ We realise we are a voice in the wilderness of what is an Inverness- centric region. We were outvoted as usual, and Inverness got its own way - if Inverness wants it then they get it. But this increase is ridiculous.
‘There is a strong feeling of resignation that we couldn’t do anything about the increase.’
The increase is set to come into place in the next few weeks.