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Ascot racegoers set to face increased taxi fares

Punters planning on hailing a council-licensed taxi could face a 50 per cent increase in their fare at Royal Ascot this year.

Revellers hopping into the back of a hackney carriage from the racecourse rink may be set on a higher tariff as part of a Royal Borough trial.

The decision, which is still subject to consultation, was supported by most of the councillors present on the borough’s licensing panel on Tuesday evening.

The move came after hackney carriage drivers said they could sometimes queue for a long time to get to the racecourse during June’s event only to get a passenger who does not travel far and end up with a low-paying fare.

Royal Borough rules mean that hackney carriages must charge a fixed rate for day trips wholly in the borough.

Their drivers want to use a higher tariff, normally used between 11pm and 6am, which is 50 per cent higher than tariff one.

“We do want the drivers to pick these people up and not be frightened off because tariff one is not enough for them to actually go there,” Cllr Asghar Majeed (Ind, Oldfield) said.

But Cllr John Bowden (Con, Clewer East) said he could foresee problems with the increase, and was the only councillor present to oppose the higher tariff when the panel went to vote at Maidenhead Town Hall last night.

“It is going to cause problems and the biggest one being (customers will be upset and argue to taxi drivers) ‘I only paid this from Windsor to Ascot in the first place’.

The fare change will only be in force for the council-licensed taxis. Private hire and ride-hailing apps like Uber set separate rates.

A consultation is due to be run on the higher tariff before it is introduced and a review of whether the higher tariff worked will be held by the licensing panel after the race.

Speaking after the meeting, the chairman of the RBWM Taxi Association, Mohammad Yasin, said: “All the drivers are quite happy because they were looking for it for a long time.”

He said most fares will be groups who would split the cost and that passengers’ main priority was to ‘go home quickly’ and that private hires can also charge customers higher prices at the event.

He added that he hoped in the future the higher tariff would be extended to all of Ascot during race week.

Royal Ascot starts on Tuesday, June 18.

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