Sadiq Khan gives in to unions over taxi fare rises

Sadiq Khan has given in to militant trade union leaders by agreeing to a 5.5pc increase in London taxi fares.

In a move that will pile further pain on passengers as inflation continues to soar, the mayor sanctioned the increase to halt an exodus of drivers leaving the capital’s roads.

The rise is considerably more than the 4pc initially proposed by City Hall, and in line with the demands of the London Cab Drivers Club, Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, striking Tube union the RMT, Unite and the United Cabbies Group.

It is the first time fares have been increased for two years. The new fares will be in force from Apr 30. The minimum will rise 60p to £3.80 and meters will “tick over” more quickly. 

Meanwhile, a surcharge for Heathrow passengers will increase by 80p to £3.60 with drivers adding £5.20 for those entering the airport’s drop-off zone.

The number of black cabs in the capital slumped to its lowest level for almost four decades as drivers struggled to make ends meet during the pandemic.

Figures released last summer revealed that there were 5,000 fewer taxis on the road, compared with the previous year. Taxi driver unions bemoaned a lack of financial support from the Government.

Heathrow has started charging all drivers £5 to drop off passengers at the airport in a similar policy to the likes of Gatwick and Stansted.

Transport for London, the authority that Mr Khan chairs and regulates black cab fares, said that the rise was necessary “to recognise that taxi drivers’ costs have increased significantly since fares and tariffs were last changed”.

A spokesman said: “We want to ensure that taxi drivers can cover their own operating costs and make a living. 

“It’s important the review ensures that the role of the taxi driver remains a viable career. Any reduction in supply will impact on how quickly passengers can get a taxi around London.”

One of the biggest increases in Tube, bus and rail fares came into force at the start of this month.

Public transport fares across the capital rose by 4.8pc, the first since Mr Khan pledged a pricing freeze in 2016. National rail fares rose by 3.8pc.