THE BAD news for local people who rely on taxis is that because of changes in the law taxi companies are now required to use official meters – and the change is to be introduced at one of the busiest times of the year, in the run-up to Christmas.
From December 1st, taxi firms will turn on their meters and the public will be seeing a sharp increase in fares. With limited public transport in Femanagh older people in particular have come to rely on affordable local taxis to get about. The worry is that many of these people will be unable to afford to get about.
Currently, there is a flat £3 Enniskillen tariff which sees those within the town boundary only paying £3 to get into town – this will now increase and it is believed that customers will be charged by the mile.
Last year, the Herald previously reported that the national tariff is currently £3 during the day, moving up to £1.60 a mile after the first half mile. The switch-on was made compulsory by the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) last year but at that time, Enniskillen taxis attempted to keep their fare increase to a minimum.
Although people going out at night will be badly affected, worst hit are people living in outlying areas of Enniskillen and in rural areas who depend on taxis for shopping, hospital visits, etc, and who cannot rely on public transport.
Collete Carey from Cavandale, Enniskillen depends on the use of local taxi companies and is worried about the rising costs.
“I depend on the use of a taxi, particularly in the bad weather. I am afraid that with the meters being put in place it will impact not just me, but everyone – the whole community.
I would use a taxi twice or three times a week to go into town, or to go to appointments, it depends what is on that week. At the minute I pay £3 to go into town but with these meters in place, if I am stuck in traffic or stopped at traffic lights I could be getting out at over £7 by the time I get up to the Diamond.”
Some taxi companies in the town already have their meters in place, but by December 1st all taxis will operate with a meter. Local Councillor Debbie Coyle pointed out that this price rise will increasingly cause problems due to the lack of public transport.
“I know a lot people in Enniskillen depend on the use of taxis. Public transport here is not anywhere near as good as places such as Belfast and Derry and people are completely reliant on these taxis. I was totally reliant on taxis until I started driving five years ago and I know this will create some problems.
“I don’t think it is a good idea for rural areas to be treated the same as the cities, and it is not good news.”
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