Red light for Amber
Amber Cars, one of the largest taxi firms in Leeds, have met resistance with drivers over a dispute in fare prices.
Students were left waiting in the cold over the weekend as approximately 250 drivers from Amber Cars staged a series of strikes demanding an increase in fares from £2.70 to £4.50 for any journey starting and ending within the city centre.
Two weeks ago Amber were forced to increase fares by 20p per mile after the first two and a half miles, taking it from £1.30 per mile to £1.50 per mile. Many students have been left unhappy by this change and are not prepared to spend £4.50 for a flat rate fare for a short journey. Francesca Webber, a student at Leeds University, is outraged by the proposed increase in fares and says she “will not use Amber cars again if the prices continue to increase. It will make students think twice about which taxi firm they use”.
Many drivers have been forced to work overtime as an increase in fuel and insurance has led to many drivers wages falling. A planned VAT increase, which is expected to come into place in January has also concerned many drivers. However Amber Cars remain adamant that whilst they are “sympathetic, as a company [they] cannot justify such an increase”. Drivers have also seen an increase in their rent charges to be part of the companies ever-growing fleet, with the weekly amount they owe rising from £90 to £100. This fee involves the hiring out of equipment and the dispatching of jobs.
One driver, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “it is unfair that the taxi drivers should have to take the brunt of the charges”. Amber however argue that the fare increase of 20p per mile after the first two and a half miles will more than cover this increase and they have deferred the £10 rent increase by £5.00 until January in order to help the drivers.
Amber recognise that they will lose many of their loyal customers overnight if they give in to the striking drivers demands particularly with the taxi industry being such a competitive market. With many other taxi firms offering similar prices Amber accept they would be at a ‘commercial disadvantage’. Will you continue to use Amber Cars if the strikes continue? Let us know at www.leedsstudent.org