Hackney Carriage taxi fares set to rise in Sunderland - here's what you could expect to pay for a journey under new plans
Hackney Carriage fares are set to go up in Sunderland after a decision by city councillors.
Under a Hackney Carriage licence, drivers can be flagged down on the street or accessed at taxi ranks as well as taking on pre-booked work.
Sunderland City Council can prescribe the maximum fares charged across the city, with individual drivers also free to charge less.
At a meeting of the council’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee this week, councillors considered a formal bid from the Sunderland Hackney Carriage Operators’ Association (SHCOA).
This included a request to increase fares across three main tariffs, including a tariff covering the Christmas and New Year periods and other public and Bank Holidays.
The proposals, which taxi bosses said represented a 7.6% average increase across the three tariffs, follows a recent increase to fares agreed by councillors in April, 2022.
However representations from the taxi trade said the majority of this tariff rise had been lost due to inflation levels hitting “double-digit” figures.
What changes are proposed?
New proposals set out charges based on three tariffs.
A report prepared for the council’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee sets out example journey distances for each tariff ranging from one mile to five miles.
Tariff one: This applies to journeys undertaken between Monday- Saturday, 7am-11pm, with the exception of public and Bank Holidays and the Christmas / New Year period.
The new charges would see an increase of 40p for a one-mile journey, an extra 60p for a 2.5-mile journey and an increase of £1 for a five-mile journey.
Tariff two: This applies to journeys undertaken between 11pm and 7am each day and all day Sunday, with the exception of public and Bank Holidays and the Christmas / New Year period.
The new charges would see an increase of 40p for a one-mile journey, an extra 80p for a 2.5-mile journey and an increase of £1 for a five-mile journey.
Tariff three: This applies to journeys undertaken from 6pm on December 24 to 7am on December 27 and 6pm on December 31 to 7am on January 2 and all day on other public and Bank Holidays.
The new charges, if approved,would see an increase of 40p for a one-mile journey, an extra 80p for a 2.5-mile journey and an increase of £1 for a five-mile journey.
Some drivers wary of higher fares
Trevor Hines, speaking on behalf of the SHCOA at City Hall this week, outlined the reasons for the new proposed tariff increase.
While noting that fuel costs had reduced, Mr Hines said the proposals aimed to cover general overheads, servicing, repairs and parts and the cost of replacement vehicles.
Mr Hines told the meeting: “Applications for tariff increases at the best of times are always contentious because there’s a mixed reaction from the taxi trade.
“Some drivers are keen to apply for increases and others quite frankly are a little bit wary because they think any increase may lose customers.
“So we have to listen to the majority and it’s a democratic process obviously”.
A SHCOA letter to licensing chiefs, published on the council’s website, added the increase aimed to “address the need to cover our increased operating costs during an unprecedented cost of living crisis”.
It was also confirmed that no variations were proposed to fares for ‘waiting time’ or extra charges.
Pros and cons
The proposals were presented to members of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee for decision on Monday, February 27.
Councillors heard that the fare increase fell against a backdrop of recruitment challenges in the taxi trade, as well as competition from ridesharing companies and new vehicle requirements from Central Government.
While councillors acknowledged impacts on the taxi trade, questions were raised about whether the fare rise could be justified and whether it would lead to an improved service.
Councillor Michael Hartnack noted there was a “significant” cost difference between Sunderland’s fares and some other areas in the region, with lower fares in areas such as Hartlepool, Stockton and Middlesbrough.
Councillor Pam Mann raised concerns about the fares increase “making it more difficult for those who really need a taxi to access one”.
Councillor Jill Fletcher, chair of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee, also said it was important to consider cost of living impacts on taxi drivers.
Cllr Fletcher added: “They have got to live and with the cost of living going up they need to have a fair wage too so I think that needs to be taken into consideration as well.”
After being put to the vote the fare increase was approved by a majority of councillors present, with Cllr Hartnack and Cllr Mann voting against.
Following the decision, the proposed fare increase will go through a statutory process which involves a public notice being published with details about how to submit objections.
If objections are made during this process they would be considered by a future meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee.
If no objections are made however, a council report states the fare increases would be expected to come into force in early-April, 2023.
What is a Hackney Carriage?
All Sunderland taxis are white in colour and have a sign on the roof reading ‘TAXI’. They display yellow Hackney Carriage licence plate and yellow Sunderland City Council decals on their front doors.
They have a meter which has the fare as set by the cou ncil.
Passengers can hail a taxi anywhere in the city when available for hire, or at a designated taxi rank, and they can also undertake pre-booked work.