The number of taxi drivers has fallen during the pandemic, sparking concerns about the safety of stranded passengers. Hull Cars boss, Chris Davidson, has said that his company are down “150 drivers” – as a result, 20 per cent of its 5000 callers on a Friday night have been told that there’s no car available. The rising cost of cars and reduced demand during the pandemic is said to have pushed many cab drivers to become courier drivers instead.
This situation has caused serious concern for the safety of the public. With less taxis on the streets, the likelihood of people making long walks alone at night has increased. This is particularly alarming for young women with spiking becoming a worrying trend in clubs. In 2021, there were 200 drink spiking incidents reported to the police in the space of two months. Unsurprisingly, 49 per cent of women don’t feel safe walking alone in the dark and the lack of taxis will only make this issue more prominent.
The number of drivers has been falling due to a change in pay rates, as well as drivers only searching for the most lucrative jobs. In London, in particular, a switch in pay rates has left many drivers leaving the professions to search for better pay elsewhere.
As a result, the GMB has called for private hire drivers to be given extra support – they’ve warned that the sector is crumbling right now. The GMB is particularly fearful that many essential workers who can’t drive will suffer from the shortage in taxis available.
National Officer Mick Rix told the Scotsman: “The private hire industry has been hammered by the pandemic.
“Just as it begins to recover from the devastating effects of lockdowns, drivers are unable to work because they cannot get fuel.
“These drivers take patients to hospital, take children to school and are often the only way people with disabilities can get around.
Ultimately, the fall in taxis is worrying for two reasons. For a start, there’s the issue that many people will no longer have a safe journey home at night. If more people are having to walk home on long, dangerous routes then crime could rise. And secondly, with the private hire driver industry suffering the fall in taxi drivers could continue.