Independent taxi drivers in Inverness are implementing a new initiative to “reclaim the streets” in a bid to fight back from the downturn in trade during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Inverness Taxi Alliance chairman Andrew MacDonald, 75, owns several cars which trade under Caley Taxis and Black Mercedes Taxis, and hires his vehicles to self-employed drivers.
He is urging independent taxi drivers across the city to “reclaim your streets and your livelihood”.
He said: “Here in Highland there are over 1,000 taxi drivers, many are self-employed independents who depend on working the few available ranks.
“Too many are trying to share an ever decreasing slice of the cake.
“Many of this beleaguered section have no choice but to continue working to try and scrape a living. Times were hard prior to Covid – they are significantly worse now.”
Mr MacDonald said he is trying to bring together independent drivers to join an initiative which will provide a 24 hour, seven-day-a-week service which will take many away from waiting hours for a shout on a rank.
He added: “This is an appeal to all independent drivers to reclaim the streets and get their due without dues, reduce pollution and their fuel costs and maximise what work is available.”
Caley Taxis has purchased a phone system that incorporates both the firm’s advertised numbers as well as the drivers’ mobiles.
Calls will be directed to the drivers’ mobiles when a call comes in, and the first to answer will get the job.
The calls will be rotated in sequence to registered drivers.
Mr MacDonald said: “Obviously, an appropriate number of cars are needed to cover 24 hours/seven days will be required.
“This is therefore an appeal to local drivers to join what will basically be a workers’ co-operative – no dues, and no commission for the duration of this crisis.
“The only pre-condition will be that drivers will take a maximum of an eight-hour shift and be available exclusively to the number at those times.”