Fewer private hire vehicles in Barrow than before COVID

There are fewer private hire vehicles carrying passengers through Barrow than before the pandemic, according to new figures.

Department for Transport figures show there were 79 private hire vehicles in Barrow in March, down from 90 the previous year and less than 92 in March 2020.

The GMB union said taxis and pre-booked cars had become more expensive due to a “perfect storm” of issues including the cost of living crisis, the coronavirus pandemic and licensing issues.

This was echoed by Phil Barker, owner of Carefree Travel in Barrow, who said: “It absolutely crippled me for the first twelve months when the pandemic hit. Even the airport job doesn’t pay well. The cost of fuel to fill one of my buses is £175, which has increased by £60 per tank.

“When you refuel at Manchester airport and back, it’s just not sustainable. Taxi prices never seem to go up.”

A private rental vehicle, such as those available through Uber, must be reserved in advance. A taxi, like a traditional black cab, can be hailed and is usually charged on a timed meter.

Carefree Travel is a specialist private hire company, providing wheelchair accessible cars. Mr Barker said the business had problems before the pandemic with the loss of a lucrative contract and now its older clientele are “less likely to exit than before”.

However, the number of taxis in Barrow increased to 165 last year, from 129 in 2020.

This bucks a national trend of taxis also declining with private hire vehicles.

Of the taxis available in March, only four were wheelchair accessible, while eight private hire vehicles offered disabled access, which includes the service provided by Carefree Taxis.

Figures also show that there are now 253 licenses for taxi and private car hire drivers in the region – down from 275 in 2020.

Nationally, the total number of licenses for private taxi and hire drivers has increased from 376,700 in 2020 to 341,300.

READ MORE: https://www.nwemail.co.uk/news/18876552.just-taxi-company-new-family-run-firm-launches-barrow/

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