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weather Bridgend 7°C

Taxi fares could soon change in Bridgend County Borough after it was agreed to put a proposal from licensed drivers forward to the public for comments.

A number of taxi drivers have argued that fares should be increased for the first time since 2011 due to the rise in cost of living coupled with the cost of running their vehicles.

At its last meeting, the Cabinet heard that four alternative pricing structures had been proposed, and that 653 letters had been sent out to licensed drivers of taxis and private hire vehicles to ask for their views.

The drivers were invited to select one of four new options, or to keep the fares the same as they currently are.

The majority of respondents (34 per cent) preferred one particular option which suggested that the 'pick up rate', which covers the first half mile of a journey, should be raised by 30p to become £2.80 instead of £2.50. After this distance, the fares would increase by 20p every tenth of a mile as opposed to every eighth of a mile as they do now.

Fares will remain more expensive between the hours of 8pm and 6am, as well as on Bank Holidays and Christmas Day. Drivers were also keen for the soiling charge to increase to £125.

Having considered all of the options, Cabinet Members agreed to put the most popular option through to the next stage - consultation with the public. Barring any objections, the new fares will come into effect from Monday 3 December.

Cllr Dhanisha Patel, a member of the Shared Regulatory Services Joint Committee which covers licensing matters, said: "As drivers have been telling us that they face large outlays before they can start to earn a living, we have agreed to see whether the public are willing to agree to a slight rise in fares, keeping in mind that taxis should remain affordable for the public, especially those who depend on them.

"If you compare the taxi fares between all 370 local authorities across the country, Bridgend County Borough is currently the 331st most expensive area to hail a taxi, at £4.90 for a two-mile journey. The highest fare can be found in Watford, where a two-mile journey costs £8.40.

"Under the new fare rate, a two-mile journey here would cost £5.80, which would put us in roughly the middle at 198th most expensive, which is still cheaper than the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff."

All of the taxis - also known as hackney carriages - that are licensed by Bridgend County Borough Council can be hailed from the street, operate from taxi ranks, or be pre-booked if required. Their pricing structures differ from those for private hire vehicles such as minibuses which always need to be pre-booked and can't be flagged down.