Private car hire and taxi drivers are struggling to make a living as they’re hit hard by the credit crunch. Pubs and clubs are also feeling the pinch as cash-strapped punters stay away; this is having a detrimental knock-on effect on the taxi and private hire industry.
The summer is often a tricky time for cab drivers. With the children off school and many people away on holiday, there’s a decrease in demand for taxi services. However this year, it’s been worse than ever.
Chris Addison has been a taxi driver in Preston for 9 years. He estimates that on a bad day, he ends up working for an average of £2.50 an hour which is woefully below the national minimum wage. After a full 8 hour shift Chris is looking at taking home just £20 for a full day’s work.
The 41-year-old father of three says the lack of money is having an impact on family life. Often he admits the money simply isn’t there to buy his children the things they need. He revealed that his children understand how difficult their financial situation is and now, rarely ask for anything as Chris said: “Usually they are not that demanding and they do not ask for too much – I am pretty lucky on that sense.”
A row erupted earlier this year as Virgin trains cut the amount of parking spaces available for the taxi rank at the local railway station. Preston city centre was brought to a standstill after scores of taxi drivers blocked the streets in protest, the argument is still grumbling on.
With this decrease in trade from railway pick-ups, the weekend has become especially important. However it seems this avenue of work has also dried up significantly with the smoking ban and increased beer prices being blamed for keeping punters away.
The approaching festive season should offer some hope for taxi drivers, although if this trend continues, many may be forced to seek out alternative careers.