An independent review of Guernsey's taxi and private hire car industry has found that it is "not fit for purpose" and is in a "spiral of decline".
Passenger transport specialists TAS concluded that the industry "is failing to provide a decent service that meets passenger needs, only marginally sustainable for many drivers, disadvantaging the business and tourism economy [and] not attracting the necessary investment towards improvement".
It also found that the industry suffers from "no States' or sector strategy for improvement, poor marketing [and] ineffective representation" and is "seen as expensive".
"As a result, there is a general sense of stagnation. The sector is dominated by owner drivers who choose when to work. Taxi infrastructure is generally poor. Information is outdated and limited and policing and enforcement of quality standards is largely reactive," said the reviewers, who presented their findings to taxi drivers this morning.
The Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure, which commissioned the review, welcomed that it "does not pull any punches" and said it "wanted a warts and all review so we could make real improvements".
Pictured: Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez pledged that her Committee would work with other interested parties to address the weaknesses found in the review of the taxi industry.
The Committee's President, Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez, said: "We know many customers and drivers have been concerned about some of the problems that have been reported recently, including a lack of taxi availability, high costs and unreliability.
"Like us, they’re also concerned about the sector’s long-term sustainability. At the same time, we know many drivers are working long and anti-social hours, under more pressure because the sector as a whole is short of drivers.
"[The review] shows the challenges are many, and the changes can’t focus on just one area if they are to make a difference. There’s no ‘silver bullet’ and we need to address this in the round.
"Our Committee has already begun to look at the recommendations but it’s still early, and we now want to hear the views of stakeholders. We want to work with customers and drivers, and all other interested parties, to support a move to a model that works better for them and works better for our economy, our society and our environment."
Pictured: The review found that the taxi industry is too often not working well for customers, drivers or the island's economy.
The 200+ page review concludes with more than 40 recommendations.
The recommendations include immediately issuing 20 additional non-transferable taxi plates, compensating existing holders of plates, simplifying the process for obtaining a licence to drive a taxi and changes to fares.
"The recommendations are aimed at opening up the market to capacity growth, investment, innovation and a more flexible labour supply," said the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure.
"This would improve the customer experience by enabling easier booking, improved accessibility, greener vehicles and assurances of reliability."
Pictured: The review found that passengers cannot obtain the taxi service they need and many drivers do not make enough money to want to stay in the industry.
The Committee announced it was setting up the review in November last year after the covid-19 pandemic underlined long-term challenges facing the taxi and private hire car industry.
At the time, Leon Gallienne, President of the Taxi Owners' Federation, welcomed the Committee's intention to work with drivers as part of the review.
“We want a system that will attract prospective drivers into the industry, offer them a sustainable living, and boost the availability of taxis for customers, particularly during periods of peak demand," said Mr Gallienne.
The reviewers said their work was informed by a public survey which attracted nearly 1,800 replies, another survey completed by 143 drivers, meetings with stakeholders and documentary research.
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