HACKNEY Carriage drivers operating from Milton Keynes Central Train Station have spoken out against unlicensed taxis in the city.
Drivers, who claim to be losing 1,000 jobs a week between the 60 cabs stationed at the rank, got so desperate that they made complaints to Milton Keynes Council and signed a petition.
One hackney carriage driver said: “People don’t know they are getting into an uninsured taxi at times and it is worrying how easy it is. If a taxi hasn’t been booked first then the driver’s insurance does not cover the passengers. We’re not asking the council to move the ranks around but just to enforce the law.”
Another driver said: “Because the situation has got so heated we have been forced to confront them 15 to 20 times a day, not with violence, but just asking them to stop what they’re doing.
“We are losing so much money. Despite working 10 hours a day and seven days a week we are fighting a losing battle. Things have got to be done properly.”
The council has now responded by sending a licensing officer down to the station at peak hours between 7am and 9.30am and 4.30pm and 7.30pm on weekdays to help with the clampdown.
A licensing spokesman said: “Milton Keynes Council’s Taxi Licensing Team is aware of the legitimate growing concerns of Hackney Carriage drivers, in line with the increase in Private Hire Vehicles operating in the area immediately outside the station while development of the station has taken place over the last few months.
“Our intention is to speak to Private Hire Vehicle drivers about plying for hire and taking details of any drivers that we suspect are plying for hire. We will be taking appropriate enforcement action, following on from us contacting and gaining information from the relevant operator.
“This will also be an opportunity to let the public know of the risk of travelling in private hire vehicles without pre-booking, and that in these cases the drivers’ insurance does not cover them.”
And one of the city’s biggest private hire companies has also advised people they need to book taxis before they get into them.
A spokesman for Skyline Taxis said: “Never get in an unlicensed cab, always pre-book it. Ask for Text-Back – Free text message detailing what vehicle is yours before it arrives.”
He also urged people to always make sure they can see the drivers Minicab licence and call the office if they have any doubts.