Under a Hackney Carriage licence, drivers can take on pre-booked work, be flagged down from customers on the street or accessed at taxi ranks.
Sunderland City Council is entitled to prescribe the maximum fares that may be charged by Hackney Carriages, with any individual Hackney Carriage driver also free to charge less.
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Although the proposed changes only apply to Hackney Carriages, they are expected to have a wider impact on the taxi trade.
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 six example journey distances for each tariff ranging from one mile to five miles.
Tariff one 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 20p for a one-mile journey, an extra 40p for a 2.5-mile journey and an extra 40p for a five-mile journey.
Tariff two 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 for this tariff would see an increase of 40p for a one-mile journey, a 40p increase for a 2.5-mile journey and a 60p increase for a five-mile journey.
Tariff three 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 for this tariff would see an increase of 40p for a one-mile journey, an extra 40p for a 2.5-mile journey and a 60p increase for a five-mile journey.
The SHCOA have also requested that the initial free waiting time of 126 seconds be withdrawn, with each period of 60 seconds remaining the same as present at 20p.
And the maximum charge for a customer “fouling the vehicle” is also set to double, increasing from £30 to £60.
Why are the changes being proposed?
Trevor Hines, of the Sunderland Hackney Carriage Operators’ Association, outlined the reasons for the proposals to the Licensing and Regulatory Committee.
The main issues included increased costs of fuel, vehicles, servicing and the wider impacts of inflation.
Mr Hines told the meeting: “It’s never nice asking for a tariff increase and I think most taxi drivers worry that it will affect the number of customers because everything is going up for everybody so everybody is feeling the pinch.
“But we felt it was justified on this occasion because it is just over two years since the last increase and once again everybody has suffered through the pandemic.
“With the present cost of fuel and vehicles and everything associated with the running of the taxi business, we felt that the application was justified.”
Councillors heard that tariff three, which runs over the Christmas and New Year periods and all other bank holidays, aims to provide an incentive for drivers to work during these periods.
During discussion on the proposals, questions were raised about whether tariff three was needed in Sunderland given that some other local authorities in the North East operate without a similar tariff.
A proposal to amend tariff three, keeping it over Christmas and New Year periods but removing the tariff from other public and bank holidays, was proposed by councillor Sam Johnston.
However the proposal failed to win support from a majority of councillors on the Licensing and Regulatory Committee, with the original proposals from SHCOA subsequently approved by the panel.
What happens next?
After winning backing from councillors, the proposals for a revised fare structure enter a period of consultation of no less than 14 days.
Any objections received during the notice period must be given “full consideration” by the committee.
If no objections are received, or all objections made are withdrawn, the revised fares and other charges would come into force.