A SOUTH Tyneside cabbie has defended proposed price hikes by claiming the trade offers value for money compared with other forms of transport.
Hackney carriage driver Brian Goodman, 39, who works out of Express Taxis in Jarrow, has spoken out in defence of a bid to raise the rates of tariffs borough cabbies can charge for the first time since 2007.
He accepts the proposed rises – ranging from 10 per cent to 16 per cent, in addition to a hike of up to 25 per cent on Bank Holidays – will prove unpopular with the travelling public.
But Mr Goodman believes taxis still offer the best hassle-free “door-to-door service” – ahead of buses and the Metro.
He said: “A bus or Metro from Jarrow to South Shields, or vice versa, for four people would be around £10. The price in a taxi? Yes, about £10.
“Even a taxi from Jarrow to, say the Scotch or Hedworth estate, is about £6. For four people on a bus, it would be about £8.50.
“Taxis offer a door-to-door service – without having to wait at bus or Metro stops.”
Members of the South Tyneside Council’s licensing and regulatory committee will meet on Monday to consider the request for fare increases from South Tyneside Hackney Carriage Association.
If agreed, it would mean the cost of a three-mile journey rising from £6 to £7 and a one-mile journey going up from £3 to £3.40.
In addition, a new separate tariff for Bank Holidays is requested, which would see charges for a three-mile journey on those days soar by 25 per cent to £9.
Mr Goodman, a taxi driver for 17 years, added: “I’d have to say that these rises are fair and overdue.
“It has been five-and-a-half years since the last increase, and diesel has increased since that time from £1 to £1.40 a litre.
“I’d say that if you are travelling in pairs, or with three or four people, the cost of hiring a taxi is the most cost-effective way of travelling.”
One taxi boss has already spoken out against the proposed increases, labelling them “ridiculous”.
And Iain Tate, owner of Dial-A-Cab at Laygate in South Shields, has pledged he won’t implement the fare rises – even if they get the go-ahead.
Members of the committee are to meet within the committee suite at South Shields Town Hall from 10am on Monday.
Members of the public can attend.