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Council / Taxi fares could increase for first time in five years

ISLES taxi operators could be set for a boost after a council committee approved a new scale of fares reflecting increases in fuel and running costs.

The revised fares, approved by the environment and transport committee could see the first rise in fares since 2014, if they pass the next committee hurdle at policy and resources.

They will mean Shetland fare rates rising to above Scottish average, but transport policy officer Robina Barton told the committee on Tuesday, they still represented good value given the costs of fuel and associated high cost of living in the isles.

According to a fare structure suggested by Shetland Taxi Owners Association, fares will rise from £3.80 for the first three-quarters of a mile to £4.00 and 20p per tenth of a mile thereafter.

The minimum billing interval is also to change from quarter-of-a-mile to 0.1 mile to enable greater profitability of short runs.

An increase in festive rates and a six-hour increase till 6am in what is deemed “Christmas” and “New Year” periods was also approved to allow drivers to charge more for early morning runs.

Fixed excursion rates of £45 per hour for a four seater and £50 for an up to eight seater taxi were also recommended. Drivers who have their vehicles “soiled” by passengers will be able to charge up to £60 for clean up costs instead of the £40 limit at present.

Barton said: “Shetland provides a very high standard of taxi services and the fact that it is not the most expensive place reflects very well on Shetland.”

According to Barton’s report Shetland currently ranks 136th of 359 licensing authorities in terms of taxi tariffs. The proposed amendments will raise it up the league table to be above the average, at around 49th to 63rd of 359.

“This can be seen in the context of relative costs for fuel, vehicle maintenance, and other services which are generally higher in Shetland than in mainland UK,” it adds.

The taxi association was revamped last year after a period where it had fallen idle. At meeting on 17 October, members agreed unanimously that fares should rise to take account of the rising costs of vehicles, fuel, garage services and other expenses relating to the industry.

If the tariffs are agreed, the proposals are published for consultation and it is planned that the new fares will come into effect in June.