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Taxi firm struggles with surge in demand

Time and date:2010-12-5 17:23:32  author:news   source:Press center4  view:  comment:0
Content summary:Letting customers down is a "regular occurrence", according to the owner of Vokes Taxis in Chatham. net

A taxi firm has said it faces a "perfect storm" amid surging customer demand, rail and bus strikes, the festive season and a driver shortage.

Mark Robinson, owner of Vokes Taxis in Chatham, Medway, said he was "inundated with work" but could only handle half of the business coming his way.

He employs 150 drivers but said he needs 50 more to cope with demand.

The number of taxis in Kent and Sussex has fallen by 16% since 2020, according to analysis by BBC South East Today.

An industry trade body said the issue was caused by delays by local authorities with issuing licences.

Mr Robinson said letting customers down was a "regular occurrence" and as a result, staff faced increasing abuse from the public.

Drivers are also struggling.

"It's all taken a toll on us. The pressure is immense at times," said John Sandhu, a driver with 30 years experience.

Many taxi drivers left the industry during the coronavirus pandemic when restrictions kept people at home.

David Lawrie, the director of the National Private Hire and Taxi Association, said the problem was having a "negative impact on public safety."

He thinks drivers should be given a temporary licence which gives them a year to gain experience in the trade in order to avoid "unreasonable delays".

Medway Council said it only issues licences to those who meet the criteria set out in its policy which includes passing a knowledge test.

The council said it was aware some local operators "believe there is shortage of drivers" and would meet with them again in January to discuss concerns.

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