Aberdeen taxi drivers should be allowed to charge more on Friday and Saturday nights to encourage them to work “unsociable hours”, the council has been told.
Research undertaken by the Licensed Vehicle Surveys and Assessment (LVSA) group for the local authority has shown a “perceived limited availability” of taxis in the city at key times.
It believes a preference for working day shifts has left many enjoying the city’s late night economy waiting in queues and fighting for limited availability of vehicles.
Now the organisation has put forward a number of measures it believes could incentivise more drivers to undertake late evening and weekend working.
Included in the LVSA’s report, which will go before Aberdeen City Council’s licensing authority next week, is a recommendation to allow higher costs for passengers, based on distance during busier times.
Councillors have been told: “The current taxi fares table, which is used by both taxis and private hire cars, allows for surcharges for late evening and weekend working.
“For some drivers, this is sufficient incentive to operate during these unsocial periods, on the basis that the fares are higher and the hires more frequent.
“However, many other drivers prefer to work the day shift.
“The incentivisation of drivers to work more unsocial hours is a common issue to be addressed in different areas.”
The report’s author adds that measures that would encourage more drivers to work unsocial hours would help to address the perceived limited availability of licensed vehicles on Friday and Saturday nights.
They write: “It is recommended that measures such as a revision of the fares table, with a new higher distance-based tariff during the late night periods on Friday and Saturday nights, is explored.”
North-east MSP Lewis Macdonald said if the incentive worked, he believes many passengers would be happy to pay more for shorter queues.
Mr Macdonald said: “I think customers would be prepared to pay a little bit more if it meant they would be waiting a little bit less, as sometimes there are indeed quite long queues for taxis on Friday and Saturday nights.
“The question is whether or not this would be enough of an incentive to drivers.”
However Tommy Campbell, regional officer for the trade union Unite, said: “I am unaware of any significant complaints from the public about taxi provision in the city, nor am I aware that the city council itself and the licensing committee have any serious concerns.”
Two new taxi ranks could be introduced in Aberdeen
Aberdeen City Council is considering an overhaul of taxi ranks in the city centre in an effort to better meet demand.
The local authority’s licensing committee has been urged to look into establishing new ranks on Upperkirkgate and Guild Street.
At the same time, the pick-up spots on St Andrews Street and Dee Street have been deemed “largely unused” by researchers and recommended for review.
The survey, undertaken between Thursday May 3 and Sunday May 6 this year, found Dee Street welcomed around 1,735 passengers during the recording period, compared to thousands more in busier areas such as Back Wynd and on Union Street, outside the St Nicholas graveyard.
Taxis did not pick up a single passenger in St Andrews Street over the four days.
A report, which will go before the local authority’s licensing committee next Tuesday, said members of the public and taxi drivers were asked where they thought a good place for a new rank would be.
The report said: “The first location thought to be suitable for a new rank is on Upperkirkgate.
“This location is close to retail and business premises, as well as the council offices, and would serve daytime demand from these land uses.
“In the evening, there is likely to be demand from nearby night-time economy venues.
“The second suggested location is Guild Street. This location would serve the bus station and local retail and business premises during the day and night-time economy venues in the evening.”