The number of taxi drivers in Powys has decreased dramatically.
Powys Council estimates that there are one-fifth fewer taxi operators now than before the COVID-19 outbreak.
Given the average prices over the previous two years, taxi license rates are projected to be cut between 2022 and 2023. The cost to the council is expected to be £9,000.
However, a councillor urged that the costs be reduced even further.
Councillor Gwilym Williams highlighted the taxi drivers’ plight, saying that they are quitting due to the fees and impact of COVID-19.
Williams inquired about the number of operators remaining in Powys and whether the number is taking an upward or downward trend.
Sue Jones, the senior taxi licensing officer answered saying that due to dwindling vehicle fee remissions, the number has reduced by 20% from before the pandemic.
Ms. Jones reported that there is some hope because fresh applications are still being received.
It has been a difficult period due to the slow pace of business and lack of enough work owing to the imposed restrictions that rendered the night-time economy redundant.
According to Cllr. Gwilym Williams, these fees are too expensive for the taxi drivers.
It is for this reason that the population is now more dispersed.
He exclaimed that the reason taxi operators are suffering is because after dropping off one at their destination, they leave it at that.
This, Cllr Williams believes, is not what operators in other regions in Wales, particularly in cities and large towns, do. Rather, they are more inclined to fetch another passenger after the initial one alights.
COVID is likely to be here for a long time. And regrettably, they will lose more to the charges because taxi drivers no longer find the business valuable.
He was worried that some parts of Powys would have a shortage of cabs for ferrying children to school.
Ms. Jones explained to the panel that the fees are meant to reimburse the whole cost of the council’s work in processing the licenses.
Regardless, the committee chair, Cllr Karl Lewis highlighted the need to put more effort to address the problem.
He hopes that Welsh government health measures that are currently enforced to protect the public against coronavirus, affecting nightclubs and hotels, will be withdrawn soon. Doing this will allow taxi operators to earn more money.
The councillors then cast a vote for taxi fare reduction; 14 voted in its favor while two voted against it.
The new costs must now be announced in the local news media, with a 28-day window for anyone to file complaints.
They will take effect on April 1 if there are no complaints.