Councillors have voted in agreement for an increase in taxi fares in the Scottish Borders.
The decision comes after they were told that refusing to do so could result in government intervention.
Scottish Borders Council reevaluates the price of taxi fares each year by taking into account new trends in the motoring industry, such as the the cost of vehicles, fuel and insurance.
In April, the council's executive committee decided that fares for the regions 111 taxi operators had to increase by 3.7%.
The rise in price would mean that 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.
In anonymous feedback the public, both taxi users and drivers, expressed their disapproval.
I think the taxis in Borders are very expensive by comparison to Uber and general cabs in Edinburgh. I live in St Boswell's and work in Edinburgh. If I want to go out for more than one drink after work and opt to leave my car in Tweedbank, it is very high to get home. An off peak return by train to Edinburgh is under £12 and the taxi for a 10 minute ride from Tweedbank to St Boswell's is just under £20 in unsocial taxi hours.That just doesn't make sense that the 10 minute ride is more than the return to Edinburgh. I think we should bring Uber here, or to encourage people to come to the Borders more or use our restaurants etc. we need to be supportive of customers not just drivers.
Taxi drivers also expressed their concerns about the price change. One driver said that the out of hours fare, which adds 25% on any taxi fare after 10pm, needs changed:
We asked that the starting rates go from £2.25 to £2.50 and from £2.80 to £3.00 when the original 25% was introduced, that's all. It was meant to be on the starting rates only, not the whole fare, but it got mixed up. Some of the after 10pm fares are ridiculous, but this could be cut back to 10%.
Despite disagreement from the public, councillors have been told that if they refuse to accept the new fares the Scottish Government's traffic commissioner could intervene.
This happened in 2015, when taxi rates last went up and Scottish Borders Council tried to stop the fares from increasing.
Last time we refused a rise we lost the case as the formula was proven to be correct. I would propose that going forward, we look at how fares are made up, as it's very complicated in the Borders compared to elsewhere. We have two tariffs, one for rides of one to four people, and another for rides of four to eight people. So, if there's five if you the fare can get very expensive. For example, if five people go from Kelso to Galashiels after 10pm, it would cost around £76 because of the price at four people.
I'm against this, especially when you take into account the comments we receive from residents about this. The post 10pm rates are ridiculous, as even a taxi driver notes in this report
The executive committee felt that their hands were tied and the increase of fares was accepted in a five to two vote.