As of 1st May 2006 all operate in the SSDC area as hackney carriages have a meter fitted in the vehicle.
South Somerset District Council’s licensing team has recently been made aware that passengers are complaining about drivers using the meters in taxis, leading to arguments over the cost of fares.
To avoid misunderstandings, the council has clarified the legal position on the use of the taxi meter and the lawful fare that can be charged.
There are numerous sections of legislation dealing with the use of taxi meters but the law in relation to taxi meters is there for one reason only – to protect the customer from being overcharged.
A council statement said: “In South Somerset we have by-laws that clearly require the meter to be used at all times and any driver will commit an offence if they do not engage the taxi meter at the start of the journey.
“At the end of the journey the taxi meter will show the maximum total fare that the driver is entitled to charge.
“A driver may agree to take less than this amount but that is purely at their discretion.“Taxi drivers are a valuable piece of the jigsaw in the public transport network and provide transport services at anti-social hours. They should be paid a fair price for the work they undertake.
“The fares are not set by the taxi drivers but by the district council”
Police have also been made aware of incidents where customers have run off without paying.
Sgt Pete Paskin, of Yeovil Police, said: “Running off from a taxi without paying is a criminal offence.
“When reported by a taxi firm to the police, this complaint is taken seriously and can result in arrest and even being charged to court. The offender may gain a criminal record for their efforts.
Taxi firms to take payment up front from customers and would like to commence a “taxi-watch”, led by taxi companies, to share information on people who may be considered at risk of not paying.”
Following the last increase in taxi fares in the south somerset district in April 2008, the Council’s fare levels are now (from figures published in January 2016) placed 104th out of 365 authorities. Given that we are a large rural area with a large amount of dead mileage, our fares is generally more expensive than urban areas which have less dead mileage. It is envisaged that South Somerset should generally be in the top 50, for this reason.
such increases would move the Council’s fares up to a position of 40th in the national list. The Committee also noted in Appendix A, that, as well as the actual passenger taxi fares based on distance conveyed, there are additional charges that taxi drivers can impose “….in connection with the hire of a vehicle….”, as the legislation provides, which the Council can also determine. For example, additional payment can be required for pets, luggage or additional passengers. Accordingly, increases to these additional charges, are therefore also approved.
Any additional taxi journeys in the district will have a moderately positive effect on the environment because of the potential for fewer single car journeys, arising from the increased use of taxis, as a form of public transport.
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