November 26, 2013
An investigation has been launched in to the number of hackney cabs in Worcester. It’s the first time in 12 years that the number of cabs there has been properly reviewed.
Too many cabs and too little rank space have become common issues around much of the UK. Here, in the West Midlands, local cabbies have long complained that taxi ranks in their small city are bursting at the seams. 249 black cabs have to fight for a spot on the rank, with up to 81% of drivers leaving the rank with an empty taxi because the customer taxi ratio is so out of proportion.
Cabs Forced to Over-rank
The investigation has been funded by the city’s taxi drivers, who have been requesting a cap on taxi licenses for years. Independent body, Vector Transport Consultancy, installed cameras at the city’s main taxi ranks and observed activity over a four day period.
Evidence from the rank examination showed that an extremely high proportion of cabs left the rank empty, especially on Sundays. It also showed that taxis are forced to over-rank on nearby streets and, more often than not, are having to park illegally.
Worcester Taxi Drivers Association is in full support of the investigation and is urging the council to act quickly on its findings. Taxi drivers in the area are saying that it’s causing financial issues as they struggle to make a living due to so much competition.
A survey of cabs was last carried out 12 years ago. Consultants then advised Worcester Council that, with just over 100 hackney taxis on the road, it was “fairly close” to meeting the city’s demands. However, since then the number of cabs on the city’s streets has more than doubled.
Speaking about the results of the investigation, Lesley Borthwick, from Worcester Taxi Drivers Association, commented: “To me it’s pretty categorical – it basically says we don’t need any more taxis in Worcester.
“For people made redundant from their job a taxi can be seen as an easy fix, but it’s harming us all. Cab drivers have to work a lot more hours than they used to and we aren’t even getting the minimum wage.”
Mr. Borthwick added: “Cab drivers have always worked long hours but at least we used to be able to earn a reasonable living. Now all we do is drive around in circles, polluting the city.”
The figures have also been compared to other cities to prove that license numbers in Worcester have got out of hand. One example quoted in the study is Oxford City Council, which has a limit of 107 licenses despite the fact that it has almost 50,000 more residents than Worcester.
The issue is now in the hands of Worcester City Council. Councillor Paul Denham said he was “not surprised” by the results:
“I’m still of the view I’d like to cap numbers as soon as possible but I can’t predict what the committee will do.”