No tenders have been received to run a taxi bus service on the Dodsworth Avenue/Bell Farm//Straylands Grove/ Monks Cross loop.
Instead full size buses continue to serve the 13/13A route between 7:30am and 6:30pm on a half hourly frequency at a cost to taxpayers of £48,000 a year.
The average half hourly number of passengers using the service is just 3.
It was the low number of users that prompted the Council at the beginning of the year to seek interest from taxi operators to run the loop. As well as the £41,000 income guarantee, the operator would have kept any fare income.
With many taxis now available with 7 seats – some specially designed to accommodate people with disabilities – it was thought that the contract would have been very attractive. One of the difficulties for taxi companies is the unpredictable nature of their income which can be influenced by everything from the weather to traffic conditions and sporting events.
Most taxi owners also continue – with different drivers – to run vehicles in the evening thus maximising the income from the “asset”. So any guaranteed day time contract use is a bonus.
There are 4 other bus services being subsidised by the Council where the number of passengers per hour is less than 10. These are being run using full sized buses with obvious fuel efficiency penalties. Conversion to taxi bus routes would not only aid the environment but should reduce costs for taxpayers.
No doubt the lack of interest from existing taxi operators in this kind of opportunity will rekindle the calls for deregulation of the number of taxis licences available in the City.
Hopefully taxi owners will now be looking at new low emission vehicles like the Toyota Prius Plus (Alpha) 7 seater hybrid which offer low emission levels and improved fuel economy. Use on services like the 13 would be in everyones interest.