A senior taxi driver has called for a cap on the number of licences in the Highland capital.
Andrew Macdonald also accused the local authority of trying to pin the blame on the trade for a recent inquiry which blocked a disputed fare rise.
Mr MacDonald, of the Inverness Taxi Alliance, said the council had made the tariff increase necessary by granting too many taxi plates, causing operators’ incomes to drop.
Highland Council has said restricting the number of licences would require a survey to be carried out to measure demand, which was likely to cost more than £10,000.
Taxi drivers in Inverness and Lochaber were split on the issue of a fares increase – with those in the Highland capital asking for a 50p rise while their colleagues in the west favoured the status quo.
The council had previously suggested a rise of 30p, but following a hearing Scotland’s deputy traffic commissioner Richard McFarlane said fares must remain as they are.
The commissioner hearing was triggered by an appeal lodged by Mr MacDonald, backed by 160 other operators.
Mr McFarlane criticised the council, saying it appeared to have “failed to consult” taxi drivers before completing the review process and proposing new scales.
Mr MacDonald said the fare rise had been suggested as “an interim measure” until numbers could be capped.
He kept track of his takings and hours worked for 52 weeks, and found that he earned on average £5.75 per hour – lower than the national minimum wage.
He said: “Since the publication of the traffic commissioner’s report there seems to have been a continued effort to portray the taxi drivers as the main protagonists trying to force the council to hand over more money.
“Quite the contrary, the main problem has been that the number of plates handed out by the council is totally out of proportion with demand and has led to an excess of taxis in Inverness.
The chairwoman of Highland Licensing Committee, Councillor Maxine Smith, said: “If the taxi trade want the licensing department to do a survey and consultation on whether or not there should be a limit to taxis in Inverness or any other area in Highland, this would require the engaging of a consultancy firm, which would not come cheap.
“Licensing is a full cost recovery service which means they cannot take a loss or make a profit, therefore any costs of this would be borne out by an increase in licensing fees to the taxi service – I am not sure if taxi drivers would all want this.”