Cab drivers have been told that they will have to charge customers more money than it states on the meter during the Jubilee bank holidays.
Manchester cabbies have been told to calculate a 33pc increase per journey, during the period, as their meters are not programmed to recognize the dates as bank holidays. One driver said that the council’s decision has caused ‘anguish’ among drivers, amid fears that drunken and rowdy customers may refuse to pay more than the metered fare.
In an email sent out to hackney drivers, Manchester City Council apologized for ‘inconvenience’ and admitted it is ‘not an ideal situation’. The email from the Licensing Unit reads: “All current taximeters fitted to the fleet are calendar taximeters. The last time the Tariff information was electronically input on the taximeters, all the known future public holiday dates were included so that the correct Bank Holiday Tariff would be displayed and automatically without the need for any input by the driver.
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“The Platinum Jubilee celebrations have been organized since the taximeters were last updated so the taximeters will not recognize these new dates as Bank Holidays. As these two dates are now official Bank Holidays, drivers are entitled to charge the Bank Holiday rate all day, on both days, but will have to work this out manually until 10pm.”
It continues: “We would advise all Drivers to explain this to passengers before the journey commences. To assist drivers and passengers, we have produced a notice that should be displayed in the vehicle on these Jubilee Bank Holiday dates.
“We’d advise drivers to ensure you have extra copies of this notice and bring it to the passenger’s attention. The Unit will also do its best to distribute copies of this Notice amongst the Hackney Trade and Trade reps can pick up copies at the Town Hall Extension Rates Hall reception.”
Neil, a 60-year-old driver, told the Manchester Evening News : “I sent an email about a month ago asking what they were going to do and the reply I got was that they said they had no plans to introduce a fare increase. It just seems like a complete lack of initiative.
“I only work during the day and this week alone I’ve had three people try and run off without paying. Imagine what it’s going to be like when there’s loads of drunk men.
“I’m 60, I don’t fight with people in the street to try and get the money I’m owed. A lot of the drivers are older people. We’re not soft but we don’t want confrontations that can be easily avoided and that’s what we’re going to get with the council’s plans.
“It’s just going to give taxi drivers a bad name. There’s no positives to it whatsoever.
“It seems like they’ve just decided what they’re going to do without actually looking at the practicalities of it.”
As the bank holidays were announced 18 months ago, Neil argued that the meters should have been updated to reflect the change. However the Town Hall said that this would have been ‘logistically impossible’.
A spokesman for Manchester City Council said: “In order for the meter of a taxi to be changed it has to be done manually and individually for each black cab in Manchester. This is so a fixed and fare rate for passengers can be maintained.
“Given there are thousands of Hackney Carriages in Manchester it would be logistically impossible to change the fare for a single day, and then back again without causing significant disruption. Unfortunately the Council does not have the arbitrary authority to change rates, which requires a meeting of the Council’s executive to confirm.
“The Council is working with the trade to try and find a solution with is both fair for the driver and passenger”.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.