The rise in fuel prices is compounding the problems of the taxi industry, and because of this, drivers are giving up.

Not only have the prices for everyday essentials such as food and heating been going up, prompted by the highest rates of inflation seen in the past 40 years, the price of fuel has also rocketed.

According to Steve Wright of the Licensed Private Hire Car Assocation, which represents taxi drivers, it is already a "crisis" for the industry.

"There is a national shortage of taxi drivers - it's a problem," he said.

In the last six months Mr Wright estimates that fuel prices have risen between 30% and 50% in some places.

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Our sister title, Corgi Cymru, has been speaking with a number of taxi drivers, including Gruffudd John from Nefyn, who serve the Llŷn Peninsula area.

"Fuel prices are the biggest scare in my opinion.  You can't pass them on to the customer. You have to take the slap yourself really. If you raise prices too much you lose business. Prices must be kept reasonable, or you will lose customers.”

Before starting his taxi business, Gruffudd John was farming, he said.

"I've been a farmer for 40 years before running taxis, and at that time people were falling through the cracks then too," he said.

"The rise in the price of fuel affects all of us who run a business. My brother is still farming and he is being affected by fuel costs as well.”

Annie runs Annie's Cabs in Amlwch on Ynys Môn and she has had to raise prices recently, she said.

"We have to increase prices a little bit more in order to cover costs. I don't take the price of petrol into account – I just put it in the tank. I have to get the petrol, don’t I? I can’t do anything about it so I just have to get on with my life. ”

With people going abroad on holiday again, Annie says she is very busy.

"I go to the airports almost every day now. But business was awfully quiet during lockdown thanks to that bloody Drakeford.”

According to Steve Wright, problems have existed in the industry since before petrol and diesel prices rose to such an extent, he said.

“Taxi drivers give up - why would you continue to work to pay everyone except yourself?

"During the pandemic, many have gone to work for companies like Amazon (and the supermarkets) and they’ve cut their personal costs in the process. Many drivers are self-employed, and own their own taxis - some vehicles cost up to £ 40,000 to buy.”

And there are many other reasons as well, he said: "Many have left the industry because of the high costs and the bureaucracy. And maybe there are different rules in Haverfordwest to Swansea - that's part of the problem. "

He said that although it varied from one local authority to another, it generally costs between £750 and £1,000 to be a taxi driver.

"You need a license, and a criminal record check, and there are many courses to take, for example disability awareness… all sorts of things."

The National Wales: Police officers check taxis in Newport, during a crackdown on licensing and safety standards earlier this year. Picture: Gwent PolicePolice officers check taxis in Newport, during a crackdown on licensing and safety standards earlier this year. Picture: Gwent Police

In Newport, one man who has been driving taxis in the city for more than a decade, told our sister title, South Wales Argus, his fuel expenses had nearly doubled in the past few years.

“We are struggling,” he said. “Life before wasn’t as tough as it now.

“I [used to] spend £100 on fuel to make £500 in fares, but now I have to spend £200.”

This is having a very real impact on his household, and his family have had to cut back on doing some of the things they enjoy.

“Before we could afford eating out, but now we always have to think about [affording] it,” he said.

While some councils have increased the rates chargeable by hackney carriage drivers, he added, the meter rates in Newport have not changed for seven years.

Newport City Council said it recognises current "challenges" for drivers and has vowed to bring in a "fair" system that "reflects current conditions".

Meanwhile, a Welsh Government spokeswoman said in a statement: "As well as providing free PPE, we made over £1million available to help taxi and private cab drivers in Wales cope with the many challenges they faced during the pandemic. We have regular discussions with the sector and will keep under review what support may be needed.”

Additional reporting from Nicholas Thomas. 

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