Manchester black cab fares set to rise amid soaring fuel costs and staff shortages

Hackney drivers want a surcharge added to fares as they say their trade is struggling during the cost of living crisis.
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Fares for black cabs in Manchester are set to increase this summer as drivers declare a ‘crisis’ in the trade caused by Covid, fuel prices and the cost of living.

Hackney carriage drivers have called for an 80p surcharge to help them cope with rising fuel prices until a wider review of fares takes place later this year.

The ’emergency’ measure would take effect from July if Manchester city council’s executive body agrees to the recommendations of the licensing committee.

It comes after cabbies told the committee that the price of diesel has risen to around £1.90 a litre, compounding the ‘crisis’ faced by the trade during Covid.

They also spoke of a shortage of drivers who have left for better paid jobs.

The first electric taxi  in Wigan Credit: Steven McClymont via LDRSThe first electric taxi  in Wigan Credit: Steven McClymont via LDRS
The first electric taxi in Wigan Credit: Steven McClymont via LDRS

What have Manchester cabbies said?

Speaking at the town hall on Monday (6 June), Unite the Union representative Karl Warburton explained why black cab drivers are calling for the surcharge.

He said: “We’ve been through an absolutely horrendous time as a trade with the pandemic and the effects on us financially and actually on the health and lives of drivers.”

The former cab driver cited the cost of living crisis and uncertainty about the introduction of a Clean Air Zone and Minimum Licensing Standards in Greater Manchester as factors which are contributing to the ‘crisis’ in the taxi trade.

He praised the local authority for the ‘flexibility’ shown during the pandemic and asked the councillors to do the same by approving the fuel surcharge.

However, he is hoping the 80p will cover more than just the extra fuel costs.

Mr Warburton added: “Let’s not be in any doubt. We’re still in a crisis as a trade.

“We’re just looking for an interim measure to just help us along the way.”

‘Drivers are leaving’

Nayyer Ahmad from Manchester’s Airport Taxi Association, whose black cab was the first electric vehicle in the city, said electricity prices have risen too.

He told the committee that the local authority is ‘way, way behind’ other areas having only increased its hackney carriage fares once over the last decade and said that the 80p fuel surcharge is the ‘bare minimum’ drivers need to survive.

The cabbie also claimed hundreds have left the profession since the pandemic.

He said: “The hardcore have stuck it out, but we are crying out for help because we can’t afford to keep running these vehicles and make a wage.”

The Licensing and Appeals Committee recommended an 80p fuel surcharge as a temporary measure until a wider fare review comes in force later this year.

The executive body, made up of Manchester’s most senior councillors, will now be asked to approve the surcharge which would come into effect on 15 July if there are no objections from the public during the 14-day consultation period.

If the fuel surcharge is introduced, hackney carriage drivers would have to add it manually on meters – as they do with drop off and pick fees at Manchester Airport and Piccadilly station – until the wider fare review comes into force.

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