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Taxi driver shortages Published Date: 07/11/2021

The Licensed Private Car Hire Association (LPCHA) estimates the industry is short of 160,000 of the previously 300,000-strong workforce who have not returned after the pandemic. It has suggested that a backlog in licensing and registration of vehicles, as well as criminal and medical checks for drivers, are partly to blame.

"This is a real national problem that affects everywhere," said Steve Wright, chairman of the LPHCA.

"We have had calls from Inverness in Scotland, right down to Cornwall, with people saying they cannot get drivers and they cannot get licences quickly enough," he told the BBC.

Taz Harrison, Welfare Officer at The Sugarmill in Stoke-on-Trent, said she was worried about both staff and customers getting a ride.

"I am finishing at the club at 4am and waiting until 5am or 6am in the morning to get a taxi," she explained.

"It's a long time to be stood by yourself in town - pre-pandemic it was 5-10 minutes."

"I've worked in venues for 20 years and I've never known it this bad."

The Sugarmill is emptying its doors of 600 music fans at the same time as multiple venues across Hanley do the same.

"The majority of people are giving up and walking," Ms Harrison added.

Students at Staffordshire University are unsurprised by this.

"There's no taxis anywhere, or they're all dodgy," one student explained.

"You get in and they want the money before you go anywhere," she continued.

One council taking a proactive approach to tackle the shortage is Torbay in Devon, where they have slashed the cost of licensing to just £50 to get more drivers behind the wheel.

"We were seeing massive queues for cabs and the tourist trade was being affected, so we thought we'd better step in," explained councillor Christine Carter.

"In the summer, we had taxi marshals to help people, and we are going to do that again at Christmas to make it as safe as possible."

However Torbay's approach has only provided half of the drivers they need so far.

"All we can keep doing is keep saying, 'please, please apply'," Councillor Carter added.

Source: BBC