City Taxis Sheffield: Why are fares so expensive? Boss explains why prices have risen
The price of taxis has risen since pandemic restrictions eased, causing discontent among many regular users in Sheffield.
At a public debate yesterday, which focussed on Sheffield’s future and zoomed in on transport issues in the city, panel member and community worker Lloyd Samuels raised the issue with City Taxis managing director Arnie Singh.
Speaking at the debate, which was hosted by The Star, Mr Samuels said: “I have been catching taxis for 20 years and the taxi service now is the worst it has ever been.
"You get drivers coming in from other towns not knowing their way around and just following a dodgy app which takes them all over the place.
"And you can book a taxi journey which says it will cost £5 and then a minute later it’s £15. What is going on?”
Mr Singh explained that the shortage of drivers after the pandemic, along with the regulations on taxi drivers imposed by Sheffield City Council, are presenting problems for cab firms.
He said: “Before the pandemic, we had 1,500 drivers. Now we have around 1,200. It used to be a five-minute wait from booking to pick-up and now the average is 15 minutes.
"Historically a taxi driver would choose to work for one operator but now the landscape has changed.
How is the driver shortage affecting taxi prices?
"Drivers are self-employed and can work for multiple operators and Sheffield City Council says that is okay. Other councils still make drivers stick to one operator.
"In practice, if you book a taxi with us, the driver will also be working for our competitors. So it is all about the price. If a competitor charges higher rates and the driver can make more money they will work for them instead.”
Mr Singh explained that this is why journeys can suddenly rise in price significantly in a matter of minutes.
"We have to encourage drivers to come back to us,” he said. “Surge pricing is about supply and demand. So we have to up the prices to make sure drivers come back to us to work. We have to embrace that, whereas traditionally we would have fixed prices.
"However, we will only ever increase by around £1 or £2. Other firms might increase a journey by three or four or five times.”