Fresh confusion over Babergh cab fares as drivers warn of issues for companies and customers

Babergh cab companies have said the new tariffs for Hackney carriages will create more confusion for

Babergh cab companies have said the new tariffs for Hackney carriages will create more confusion for both drivers and customers. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Changes to Hackney carriage fares in Babergh aimed at simplifying tariffs will create more confusion for both cabbies and customers, drivers have warned.

A consultation held over the spring sparked a series of concerns from cab companies which claimed the revised tariffs would actually reduce the income per journey, rather than create the intended improvement for them in light of increased costs for cab firms.

The revised structure proposed a £3.20 starting rate for day journeys – a 20p increase on the current starting rate, while initial charges for night rates would start at £4.60 or £6.20 for Christmas and New Year. All three tariffs would have 10p added to the fare for every 110 yards travelled.

But the cab trade pointed out that the starting rates for the night and Christmas/New Year rates would actually be below what they could charge now, which allowed a 50% increase on the day rate for evenings, and the Christmas/New Year rate to be double the day rate.

The council said it was trying to simplify the tariff structures while also recognising that Hackney carriage fares had not increased since 2016 but drivers were facing increased costs in fuel and insurance.

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Following the feedback from cab companies, amended rates were agreed by Babergh District Council’s licensing committee on Friday, albeit amid much confusion, and will now be £3.20 day rate for the first 588 yards, increasing by 10p for every 98 yards thereafter.

The night rate will be £4.60 for the first 544 yards and a 20p increase for every subsequent 136 yards, while the special Christmas/New Year rate will be £6.20 initial charge for the first 416 yards with a 20p charge every 104 yards thereafter.

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But inconsistencies in the new rates have left cab companies unclear on what the new pay structure will be.

Stuart Armstrong, from AAA Cabs Ltd in Sudbury, said: “To my mind it was simple how it was.

“It was a 50% increase for tariff two (night rates) and 100% on tariff three (Christmas and New Year).

“This has created more confusion than there has already been. There was also nothing put forward about larger vehicles.

“This will lead to more confusion for the public.”

A date of July 27 has been set for the introduction of the new fares, providing it gets cabinet backing next month, which will be reviewed in a year’s time.

Sue Carpendale, from the committee, said: “We really want to try to simplify the fares and tariffs, and be as transparent as we can be for both the customer and the operator.

“What we are concerned about is that we ensure that drivers and operators don’t lose out, and that they do have an improvement in their income levels from 2016 [when fares last changed].”

Hackney carriages are cabs which can be hailed from the roadside or wait in taxi ranks, with the new tariffs not applying to private hire taxis which must be booked by people in advance.

The new tariffs, if approved by Babergh’s cabinet, will apply to operators with licenses issued by the Babergh authority, including in key towns such as Sudbury, Hadleigh, Great Cornard and Lavenham among many others.

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