Local Democracy Reporting Service
Ater a public consultation process, the region’s 111 taxi operators could increase fares by 3.7% if they choose to do so as early as September this year, meaning a ten-mile journey in a one-to-four person taxi will go up from £19.59 to £20.32, while a ten-mile journey during ‘anti-social hours’ will rise from £24.49 to £25.40.
Scottish Borders Council assesses taxi fares each year using a formula which takes into account trends in the motoring industry such as the cost of vehicle purchase, fuel, and insurance. The rise signals the first time taxi fares have been increased in the Borders since the 2014/15 financial year.
Despite the formula showing an increase is on the cards for this year, several councillors expressed misgivings over a fare rise.
Kelso and District councillor Tom Weatherston said: “I compared us to other authorities, and I found that we’ve probably got the highest taxi fares in Scotland.
“What concerns me is the ‘flag’ rate, which is the length of distance you can go before the meter kicks in. In other areas, they can go much further before the meter kicks in.”
Galashiels and District councillor Euan Jardine said that the cost increase will hit vulnerable people the hardest: “For the most vulnerable in society, this is going to push up the expense of getting around.
“There’s some elderly people who will have this just eating away at their fixed income. I know this has to go through but I’m against this altogether as it does harm the most vulnerable people.”
Councillors voted through the fare increase despite a motion by Mr Jardine to temporarily block the increase.
The taxi fare increase will now be put to a public consultation, the results of which are due to be put before the council in June.
During this period, taxi operators will have the opportunity to appeal the increase, but council officers confirmed that if no taxi operators contest the increase then the new fares could be introduced as early as September of this year.
Council officers also confirmed that taxi operators must pay to have the new rates installed on their metres by a professional, which can cost upwards of £30 per taxi.