Derry’s taxi industry is being strangled by spiralling costs, fewer fares and a continuing influx of new drivers, it has been claimed.
A local cabbie, who wishes to remain anonymous says drivers are now “completely demoralised” and are forced to work in excess of 70 hours each week to make a decent wage.
“There’s less money about so fewer fares but at the same time fuel, insurance and radio rental costs are still rising,” the driver told the ‘Journal.’
The driver says the attitude of some firms in the city does not help drivers.
“In recent years a number of the city’s smaller firms have been bought over by bigger taxi companies.
“Companies are aware of the difficulties drivers are facing and still they take drivers on. It’s simple, more drivers means more rent.”
The driver says taxi companies hiking up radio rent has become commonplace.
“An increase of £5 a week on radio rent for a firm with 200 drivers means the company makes £52,000 extra a year. There’s a feeling among some drivers that to do that is nothing short of corporate greed, albeit on a smaller scale.
“It’s completely demoralising”
The cabbie says starting at 5am and finishing around 11pm is not uncommon.
“You are forced into working hours that are illegal. It’s not good for your family life, nor for your health.
Taxi drivers don’t have the option of going in and speaking to the boss - there would be a pretty short answer - ‘away you go, there’s plenty more people looking for work’.”
Andrew McCartney of the North West Taxi Proprietors Association says there are a number of issues affecting the industry.
He says the NWTP continue to lobby for the full implementation of the Taxis Act - legislation first mooted in 2007, and that is designed to bring greater regulation to the industry.
“It seems to have been lost to bureaucracy but we will continue to lobby for its implementation as soon as possible.
“It will not cure all ills, but it will help,” he says.