July 26, 2007
Taxi operators on Merseyside are becoming increasingly frustrated by the monopoly conditions that prevent them having a choice when it comes to buying a new cab.
Hackney owners across 95% of UK council areas now enjoy a choice of vehicles and suppliers. Yet operators in Liverpool and the neighbouring borough of Knowsley – centred on Huyton and Kirby – continue to be angered by London licensing conditions that deny them this basic right.
Frustrated cab owners recently invited taxi manufacturer Cab Direct to host a series of open days in Huyton, Kirby and Liverpool, to give the trade an opportunity to view two leading purpose-built taxis – the stylish Mercedes-Benz M8 and all-new Peugeot E7.
These events were well attended, with response from owner-operators and fleet owners proving enthusiastic.
Knowsley operator Paul Nulty commented: “It’s only right that we as taxi owners have a choice of what vehicle we use to make our living. That’s why we organised these events in conjunction with Cab Direct to give everyone a chance to see what’s available in other council areas.”
“The trade were extremely impressed with both the E7 and M8 cabs. Most of the drivers had never driven either vehicle before but the overall opinion was very positive.”
Paul added: “The driver position in these modern vehicles is much more comfortable than the old-style taxis and the handling and manoeuvrability are fantastic.”
Feeling in Liverpool is similar, with more and more drivers keen for a competitive market that will see everyone benefit from better service quality and more competitive trade-in prices, as well as the option to purchase a more modern cab with better fuel economy and a host of advanced safety features.
Local drivers turned out in force for the recent open day at the Grosvenor Casino in West Derby Road. The majority of those attending were in no doubt about what action they want their council to take.
Taxi owner Alan Stockley explained: “I love driving a taxi in Liverpool but we need to move with the times. Most other cities in the UK have alternative vehicles and we regularly hear about the benefits enjoyed by the drivers, including lower running costs.
“I suffer from back problems and am now at the stage where my job is beginning to damage my health. The modern vehicles are far more comfortable so why should we be denied the opportunity to use them?”
Given the huge demand for the Peugeot E7 and Mercedes-Benz M8 among hackney operators in other major cities it’s no surprise that operators on Merseyside believe it’s high time that operators on Merseyside should also enjoy the right to choice. Local disability groups have also called for more accessible, modern-style hackney cabs to be brought into use in the Liverpool and Knowsley taxi fleets.
Cab Direct Managing Director Paul Nelson commented: “We all know that market forces drive down prices and force suppliers to up their game or loose the business.
“No-one is saying we should get rid of traditional taxis – simply that taxi operators in Merseyside should be trusted to make their own choice of vehicle, providing it meets appropriate safety standards.”
“In a nutshell, the right to choice has to be good for everyone. Whether operators opt for a modern style purpose-built cab or stick with the traditional taxi, everyone in the trade stands to better from more competitive prices, better trade-in values and improved after-sales service.”