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Uber’s Success May Drive Up Guildford Taxi Licence Costs

Published on: 1 Jan, 2019
Updated on: 6 Jan, 2019

By Rebecca Curley

Local Democracy Reporter

The success of Uber in Guildford has led to a number of cabbies quitting the trade completely, and could drive up the cost of borough taxi licences, according to council papers.

The teal livery on taxis licensed by Guildford Borough Council.

Uber’s popularity has now forced Guildford Borough Council’s licensing officers to look at increasing charges for drivers to obtain licences and take the ‘Knowledge test’– a test all cab drivers must pass to secure a licence.

A one-year licence for a Hackney carriage will increase by £28.95 to £249.74 in April if the proposals are adopted next week.

The cost of the test for a Hackney carriage will also rise by £48.05 to £100.50 under the new measures.

And taxi drivers will see the bill for renewing their five year licence go up by £422.43 to £970.97.

The effect on taxi and private hire fees and charges has been laid out in a paper to go before councillors at the council’s licensing committee meeting on Monday, January 7.

It suggests there has been a drop in the number of licensed drivers in the borough due to a change in the length of time a licence is valid increasing from one year to five years, but also to the impact of Uber in the area.

It states that a number of drivers are now licenced by other authorities with “less stringent requirements” but that the “most notable impact has been the considerable increase in popularity of Uber”.

In order to work for Uber, drivers and vehicles must be licensed by Transport for London (TfL) and not Guildford Borough Council.

The report states: “We have seen considerable numbers of drivers apply for a TfL licence and as such, the number of applications received has reduced.

“Secondly, due to the increased competition, a number of licence holders have left the trade and not renewed, again reducing the number of applications.”

According to figures presented in the report, the number of applications for vehicle licences has dropped from 629 in 2015-16 to 541 in 2017-18.

Drivers taking the ‘Knowledge test’ or applying for taxi badges dropped from 428 in 2015-16 to 277 in 2017-18.

There are now 61 borough-licensed operators in Guildford.

If approved by councillors the proposals will go out to public consultation and take effect on April 1.

If objections are raised, the licensing committee will consider the feedback at its meeting on March 25 and set another date for implementation of the new costs.

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Responses to Uber’s Success May Drive Up Guildford Taxi Licence Costs

  1. Alan Cooper Reply

    January 2, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    I would have thought that Uber would have only affected the poor mini-cab service that we appear to now have in Guildford.

    The last couple of times I called the local mini-cabs, a wait of between 45 and 60 minutes was quoted. Uber just 4 minutes!

    The blue hackney carriages outside the station will always be in demand and always wanted.

    But they are more difficult to get hold of by telephone.

    Perhaps this could be addressed as many would prefer a proper taxi.

  2. John Perkins Reply

    January 2, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    What a clever response to being undercut – increase prices.

    • Martin Elliott Reply

      January 3, 2019 at 8:46 pm

      They have yet to propose any review of the fares tariff after Cllr Ellwood’s last ‘negotiations’ by law courts with the [Guildford] Taxi Drivers’ Association.

  3. Lisa Wright Reply

    January 3, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    I’m not sure I’ve understood this correctly?

    Uber charges much less than a Guildford taxi.

    More people use Uber as it is cheaper and in my experience faster.

    Licensed Guildford cabbies are losing money.

    That all sounds very familiar and follows the general rules of supply, demand and pricing.

    Who at Guildford Borough Council thought it would be a good strategy to increase licence fees etc for Guildford taxis, making their services even more expensive and probably ensuring many more cabbies leave the profession?

    Even more worrying is that these same decision makers control the huge Guildford Borough Council financial budget.

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    • Martin Elliott Reply

      January 4, 2019 at 5:48 pm

      Cllr Ellwood is the lead councillor for licencing, so is probably responsible for, and responsive to, changes. He is also responsible for Uber operating in Guildford on a Transport for London licence, unlike most towns in England.

      For “safety” he has forced all taxis (approximately 60) to be GBC teal in colour. Brighton, for example, is happy to just have bonnet/boot coloured for decades.

      He also favoured a new calculation of fares to reduce them and used a two-year case in court to force it through against the taxi association.

  4. A Rossiter Reply

    January 8, 2019 at 11:53 am

    Wakefield Council have just lost in the High Court on this very matter:

    GBC ought to be cautious. Surely if there’s less income, less staff are required to administer?

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