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Guildford cabbies quitting because of "increase in popularity of Uber"

Guildford cabbies quitting because of "increase in popularity of Uber"

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Rebecca Curley at 2:33pm 2nd January 2019.

The success of Uber in Guildford has led to a number of cabbies quitting the trade completely, and could drive up the cost of borough taxi licences.

According to council papers, Uber’s popularity has now forced Guildford’s licensing officers to look at increasing charges for drivers to obtain licences and take the Knowledge test – a test all cab drivers must pass to secure a licence.

A one year licence for a hackney carriage will increase by £28.95 to £249.74 in April if the proposals are adopted next week.

The cost of the Knowledge test for a hackney carriage will also rise by £48.05 to £100.50 under the new measures.

And taxi drivers will see the bill for renewing their five year licence go up by £422.43 to £970.97.

The effect on taxi and private hire fees and charges has been laid out in a paper to go before councillors at Guildford Borough Council Licensing Committee on Monday (7 January).

It suggests there has been a drop in the number of licensed drivers in the borough due to a change in the length of time a licence is valid increasing from one year to five years, but also to the impact of Uber in the area.

It states that a number of drivers are now licenced by other authorities with “less stringent requirements” but that the “most notable impact has been the considerable increase in popularity of Uber”.

In order to work for Uber, drivers and vehicles must be licensed by Transport for London (TfL) and not Guildford Borough Council.

The report says: 

"We have seen considerable numbers of drivers apply for a TfL licence and as such, the number of applications received has reduced.

“Secondly, due to the increased competition, a number of licence holders have left the trade and not renewed, again reducing the number of applications.”

According to figures presented in the report, the number of applications for vehicle licences has dropped from 629 in 2015/16 to 541 in 2017/18.

Drivers taking the Knowledge test or applying for taxi badges dropped from 428 in 2015/16 to 277 in 2017/18.

There are now 61 borough-licensed operators in Guildford.

If approved by councillors the proposals will go out to public consultation and take effect on 1 April.

If objections are raised, the licensing committee will consider the feedback at its meeting on 25 March and set another date for implementation of the new costs.

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