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St Albans taxi drivers facing stiff competition
Taxi drivers in St Albans are once again urging politicians to put a limit on the number of licences issued as they claim nothing has been done to improve their situation.
Hackney carriage drivers across the district, who are members of the St Albans Taxi Association, asked the council's licensing committee to consider introducing a regulation in July, as they say there are too many taxis on the roads.
They argue that they find it hard to earn a decent wage because of the competition, and that existing taxi ranks ares full.
However their original calls were rejected and the district council said it was following guidance from the Office of Fair Trading and Department of Transport reports on best practice.
Mudassar Yasin, secretary of the taxi association, is now leading the campaign to get the proposal resubmitted.
He said: "Having lots of taxis doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get a better service. If the drivers aren’t earning enough the service will deteriorate.
"Ten years ago you would know your passengers by their first name - it is not personal any more."
Mr Yasin says drivers now have to work longer hours because of the competition for passengers, and his average weekend shift is about 15 hours long.
He added: "Everyone is out all the time now trying to make money.
"It is causing a lot of problems - just the health issues of working so many hours and not sleeping properly."
The association says there are about 260 Hackney carriages in the city, as well as approximately 180 private cars, which is far higher than the suggested figure of one and a half taxis for every 1,000 residents.
Mohammed Khan, chairman of the association, is worried about the congestion around the taxi ranks, especially during busy times.
After rejecting the original plans, the council agreed to build a new taxi rank to ease congestion.
But plans for a new rank in Harpenden were rejected by the town council, and the association claims no further locations have been proposed.
Mr Khan said: "Because there are so many cars they are parking all over the place.
"When the ranks are full where are we meant to go?"