Taxi firms ask for patience as they warn of impacts of driver shortages

Taxi firms operating across the region are asking for understanding and patience from passengers during the autumn and winter months as widespread driver shortages across the industry impact the company.

Go Carz operates taxis across the region
Go Carz operates taxis across the region

Veezu, which operates five regional brands including Go Carz, is looking for 4,000 additional driver partners across England and Wales to meet the current bookings demand, which is expected to increase as the nights draw in and the weather becomes wetter and colder.

During the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of registered taxi and private hire vehicle drivers have left the industry or retired. During Covid many authorities stopped processing applications and have only recently restarted the process, but it will take time to licence sufficient driver partners to satisfy the high level of demand and this is affecting all private hire operators in the UK.

Robin Gibson, regional director at Go Carz, said: “Regrettably, passengers are having to wait longer than normal. We are taking all the steps we can to increase the number of licensed drivers to match the high demand of journeys by the public. Just like within the road haulage industry there is a nationwide shortage of licensed private hire drivers. We ask for patience as we partner with new and additional drivers to meet resurgent demand.

“It’s a great time to partner with Veezu and one of our regional brands such as Go Carz. Driver partners are self-employed and have total flexibility to work the hours they want. This autumn and winter we anticipate the demand for bookings will surpass pre-Covid levels, there is good money to be made driving.”

Since lockdown restrictions eased and people began going about their daily lives again, demand has increased and is putting pressure on operators like Go Carz who match bookings with available self-employed driver partners.

The high demand for bookings, coupled with calls about existing bookings, has seen tens of thousands of additional calls each weekend being received by several regional Journey Booking Centres across the country. Subsequently, Go Carz is recruiting call advisors to help manage the expectations of those wanting to travel.

Mr Gibson added: “We are doing everything we possibly can as quickly as we can. We hope the public can understand that the private hire industry is facing severe shortages and can empathise with our situation.

"We would like to remind passengers that the quickest and most effective way of booking a car is to use our app. We also encourage passengers to use the app to track the arrival of their car and get fare estimate in less than 20 seconds.”

Shaz Saleem, owner of West Midlands-based Beacon Taxis, said: "It has been a bit of a nightmare really. Business has returned since the lockdowns, but we are struggling to find new drivers.

"We are about 50 per cent down on drivers and are having to turn customers away. It is not just us, there are issues across the industry and we are having to find new ways of managing the situation.

"It is challenging as we head into our busiest time of year over Christmas. I think things will get worse before they get better."

Meanwhile, Adrian Picken of Telford-based 1st Choice, said: "We are looking for more drivers, but we are just not getting enough applicants."

Mr Picken believes part of the problem is with the licensing process for new drivers. "The licensing process is expensive, especially if anyone is on the dole," he added.

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