TAXI fares will increase in West Berkshire next year, and could be as much as 10 per cent.

Although it is still undecided by exactly how much the rise will be, the taxi trade has asked West Berkshire Council to increase the maximum tariffs by nine per cent. The last time they were changed was in 2013. 

But Councillor Graham Bridgman (Con, Burghfield & Mortimer) said the price system of fares needed to be ‘tidied up’. He said: “We suggested to the trade there needed to be some consistency.” 

The tariff system currently uses fractions of distances and is difficult to understand. 

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Cllr Bridgman created a new tariff table, similar to the trade’s proposals but clearer and more logical, for example using a unit of distance as 1/10th of a mile.

Under his proposals, a fare would be slightly more expensive than in Reading for three miles or less, but cheaper for four miles or more. 

Cllr Bridgman told the council’s licensing committee, on November 19, that taxis in West Berkshire ‘want to charge just under Reading’. He said: “They don’t want to be seen to be as expensive as Reading are.” 

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Reading’s current fares are £4.80 for a mile, £7.20 for two miles, and £9.60 for three. West Berkshire’s current fares are £4.50 for a mile, £6.65 for two miles, and £8.80 for three.

Cllr Bridgman’s proposals were £4.95 for a mile, £7.35 for two miles, and £9.75 for three. After four miles, his fares would be cheaper than Reading, but more expensive for distances of three miles or less.

These fares are the maximum which taxis are allowed to charge, and they are free to charge less if they wish. The increases are under the rate of inflation.

Cllr David Marsh (Green, Wash Common) said: “I commend Cllr Bridgman for his efforts. This is more rational and easier to understand than the trade version. It seems very fair and reasonable. It looks like a win-win.”

Cllr Billy Drummond (Lib Dem, Greenham) was less sure. A man had recently complained to him, who had taken a taxi two miles on a Sunday evening, and had to pay almost £10. He told Cllr Drummond it was a ‘rip-off’.

Tariffs are more expensive after 10pm, and on Sundays and bank holidays.

Cllr Bridgman’s changes — which have an average increase of 10 per cent — will be sent to local taxi company Cabco, and then the new tariffs will go out to public consultation for a month. 

The fares will likely come into effect in around January or February.