A SHORTAGE of taxis in Basildon is fearing residents at risk with huge queues of punters trying to get home at the weekend following the Covid pandemic and cost of living crisis putting the industry in crisis.
Mark Waller, chairman of the Basildon Hackney Carriage Association, revealed that 40% of drivers have not returned to the trade since the pandemic, and the price of fuel has fallen even further as profits dwindle.
Bob Walsh, who runs Bob’s Cab, witnessed huge queues in Billericay over the weekend and worries about the safety of young people returning home at night after drinking alcohol.
The cost of becoming a licensed taxi driver in the UK has also hit many workers, with the licence, test, DBS checks and medical certificates initially costing £531.
With drivers also keen to avoid passing on prices to residents, the cost of fuel has eaten away at profits.
Mr Weller said: ‘About 40% of taxi drivers have not returned to the profession. Since the pandemic, 12 Basildon drivers have died from Covid-19. It affected us all terribly.
“We’re just spending more money for the same amount of fuel and that means it’s cutting into your profit margin which is already pretty tight anyway.
“We need to find a way to manage the cost of DBS checks because safety measures need to be in place first, public first.”
Basildon councilor Peter Holliman has raised concerns that a lack of taxi drivers is becoming a public safety issue, with a catalog of issues in recent years impacting the trade.
He said: “We have seen more taxi drivers come in for their vehicle license extensions. The vehicle’s license lasts for 10 years, so these workers spend a lot of money on replacement cars, eating away at their profits.
“This absolutely affects public safety, these people are providing an essential service to people, which they can no longer continue to do. This poses a danger to those at night. What is linked to the problems of unlicensed taxis getting on the road is a huge risk for the public. No one should be afraid to get in a taxi.
Mr Walsh, 58, added: ‘It puts people at risk, what I saw one night shocked me.
“There were queues of 20 to 30 people. Young girls wait in the dark. I felt so sorry that I could only help one person.