Glasgow taxi bosses appear before council as the trade struggles to source parts and drivers

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Glasgow taxi firms are at risk of losing their license as they struggle to bounce back after the pandemic

Taxi firms in Glasgow have warned the trade is struggling as it faces difficulties sourcing vehicle parts and finding drivers.

Three operators appeared before the city’s licensing committee on Wednesday, January 11, after missing annual vehicle inspections. And they reported a drop in available drivers, financial concerns for firms and issues securing parts to get cars back on the road.

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Samantha Clark, of Bank Taxi Service, said: “The effects of covid have been detrimental to the trade, we haven’t been able to source parts for the vehicles. You’re paying more, a lot of the parts for vehicles have been on backorder.

“In addition to that, because I’m a taxi operator and not a taxi driver, I employ a taxi driver to drive the vehicle in order to make revenue to pay for the vehicle to be on the road and there are no drivers coming through the system.”

She added: “Every operator has been affected by significant financial hardship in the current climate.”

The operator also claimed a customer service course for drivers was “difficult to pass” and the topographical tests, required to be completed by hackney drivers but not private hires, was stopping drivers coming through the system.

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“In my opinion, the whole issue could be rectified if you removed the topographical,” she said. “It’s not required for private hires, but it is required for hackneys, which is why we’re in this situation.”

Glasgow’s topographical test aims to ensure drivers have a knowledge of the city, including road layouts and the location of landmarks.

Cllr Alex Wilson, who chairs the licensing committee, said he disagreed with some of Ms Clark’s points, as he believes the customer service course isn’t difficult and has been a “welcome addition” as some drivers weren’t reading the terms of their licence. However, he added: “I agree the topographical test, especially now we’ve got SatNavs, is probably not fit for purpose. That’s something that as a committee we will look at.”

Ms Clark said she had not presented one of her vehicles for inspection as it was waiting on parts, and she was happy for her licence to be suspended until “something can be done regarding the issue”.

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“I want to be back creating jobs for the city, providing the public with transport home from their nights out and contributing to the Scottish economy,” she added.

The committee suspended the licence for the unexpired portion of its duration. A representative from Lees Taxi Service, who said he had been in control of the business since 1979, said it was “the first time we’ve been in this situation”.

He said covid had put the firm “right under the cosh” and “getting parts and the price of parts has gone through the roof”.

“Getting garages to sort cars is getting trickier because a lot of garages gave up, so we’re in a situation I never envisaged and I’ve been in the taxi business my whole life.”

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One of his vehicles hadn’t been presented for inspection as it required a new engine. His licence was suspended for the unexpired portion of its duration.

Cllr Wilson said: “I completely understand the pressures, finances, parts. My own car has been off the road since November and it’s down to parts and people trying to fit those parts.”

Frank Kelly, of Calton Taxi Co, said he had returned the vehicle which had been due for inspection during the covid pandemic, when there were no drivers, as it was on finance.

He said he is planning to put the taxi back on the road but doesn’t currently have a vehicle. The committee noted his licence had now ceased to have effect.

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